Sunderland Corporation Tramways
Sunderland Corporation took over operation of the horse tramways from the erstwhile Sunderland Tramways Company on the 30th March 1900, continuing to operate them until withdrawal of the final service on 19th February 1901. It is currently unclear whether the corporation saw fit to issue the men working these services with new uniforms, or whether they simply continued to wear the uniforms they had worn previously.
Early photos depicting tramway staff working the new electric services are rare, though they clearly show that both motormen and conductors wore single-breasted tunics with a single row of five buttons (bearing the assumed arms of Sunderland and the full system title - see link), plus two buttons on each cuff, two waist pockets, a breast pocket (on the left-hand side) and upright collars; the latter do not appear to have borne any kind of insignia. The uniform was dark blue in colour. Kepi style caps were worn, which carried a script lettering cap badge - either ‘Conductor’ or ‘Motorman’ - together with a small badge of unknown pattern. The cap badges appear to have been replaced - probably in 1901 or 1902 - by an elaborate oval cap badge (nickel), comprising: the assumed arms, within a garter containing the full system title ('Sunderland Corporation Tramways'), all surrounded by a wreath.
The early style of jackets was superseded - around 1905 - by double-breasted, 'lancer-style' style tunics with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes and upright collars. The collars appear to have carried a small municipal shield badge, though details are unclear; the epaulettes carried a staff number in metal numerals and a small municipal shield badge (not always present), and were fastened at the neck end with a button. At the same time, the caps were changed to a military pattern with a tensioned crown (top), with a glossy peak, and carried a completely new cap badge comprising the arms above a ribbon bearing the legend ‘Sunderland Trams’ (see below). The badge was presumably re-designed because its predecessor, which was rather tall, would either not have fitted the new caps, or would have looked somewhat awkward. Badges and buttons were probably brass initially (1900-1902), though these appear to have been relatively quickly displaced in favour of nickel. The 'lancer-style' jackets were probably used right through to the 1930s, when they were superseded by double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons, two waist pockets, and lapels; photos suggest that these appeared both with and without epaulettes (at different time points). The lapels carried a staff number, whilst the piped epaulettes (when present) bore the small shield badge previously applied to the upright collars. Towards the end of the system's life, caps were changed to a soft-topped design, and whilst they carried the same style of cap badge as earlier, this was probably a Transport Department issue rather than the early 'tram' specific pattern; jackets remained double-breasted, but the style altered subtly to a piped design with epaulettes.
Staff were also issued with long, double-breasted great coats with two rows of five buttons, high fold-over collars and epaulettes (see below).
A photo taken on the last service from Seaburn (see below), shows the motorman wearing an unmarked, round PSV-like badge/number, the precise purpose of which is unknown.
By 1905, inspectors were wearing a traditional style of 'tramway' inspector's uniform, comprising a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair) and upright collars; the latter probably bore 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in the kepi style and bore a small cap badge (comprising the stylised Sunderland shield topped by a globe), which was worn above a hat band that bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. At some point the cap was changed to a more modern military style with a tensioned crown, the cap badges and hat band however, remaining the same. At the end of the system's life, inspectors were certainly wearing smart single-breasted jackets with four buttons, four pockets (with button closures), waist belt, epaulettes (also with button closure) and lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered scipt lettering.
In common with many other UK tramway systems, women were employed in significant numbers during the Great War, both as conductresses, motorwomen and inspectors. Eventually, all 85 conductors were female, the last one being discharged in 1920 (The Tramways of Sunderland; S A Staddon, 1964). Female tramcar staff were issued with long skirts and long, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt (with two buttons), hip and breast pockets, upright collars and epaulettes; the latter probably carried the same insignia as the corresponding male tunics. Headgear took the form of a baggy cap with a glossy peak, adorned with the usual municipal cap badge. The ladies were also issued with the standard great coat worn by male staff, i.e., untailored for female staff. Great War lady inspectors wore identical uniforms to female tramcar staff, but with the standard cap badge replaced by an inspector's badge and a grade badge; it is unclear whether the latter was embroided or in metal.
Female staff were also employed during the Second World War. These ladies were issued with 'air force blue' uniforms, comprising: modern knee-length skirts and tailored, single-breasted jackets with breast and hip pockets (both with button fastenings), a waist belt and epaulettes. The only insignia used on ladies’ tunics appears to have been on the epaulettes, with the exception of lady inspectors, who had ‘Inspector’ in embroidered, script lettering on the upper lapels of their jackets. Caps were similar to those worn by male staff, but were slightly floppier in appearance, though they still carried the standard cap badge.
Motormen and conductors
The crew of Tramcar No 7, which is about to reverse over the cross-over at the terminus at the south end of Roker Terrace, on the short working to High Street (Mackies Corner) - photo undated, but believed to have been taken in September 1900. Note the kepi-style caps with script-lettering badges and a small badge worn above. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Motorman aboard Tramcar No 18, which is facing south at Roker Terrace. This shot is thought to have been taken in March 1901 as the car was only delivered in the previous December (with bogie trucks), all of which had been replaced by the spring of 1901; this is the only known photo of one of these bogie cars in unmodified condition. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser
Brass, script-lettering cap badges of the same pattern as worn by Sunderland Corporation Tramways staff in the early years of operation.
Sunderland open-top tramcar No 30 at the Grangetown terminus on Ryhope Road - photo undated, but probably taken around 1902. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who is wearing kepi-style cap with a tall oval cap badge (almost certainly the pattern illustrated below).
Sunderland Corporation Tramways cap badge - nickel. This badge is probably the same pattern as seen in the 1902 photo above. It appears to have replaced the script-lettering grade badges (probably in 1901 or 1902), but was itself superseded with the switch to military-style caps, as it would probably have been too tall for these. Author's collection.
A poor-quality photograph showing a motorman with the new style of cap badge, but one which can be reasonably accurately dated as the tram has been decorated to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII and his wife Alexandra, which took place on the 9 August 1902. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Staff photo taken at the Hylton Road Depot in 1905. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
A blow-up of the above photo showing some of the staff. Whilst the majority of those depicted in the photo are wearing military-style caps, which bear a new cap badge (see below), several individuals are wearing the older kepi-style caps with the taller badge.
Sunderland Corporation Tramways cap - nickel. This style of badge appears to have been worn from around 1905 through to closure, though it may at some point have been superseded by its 'Transport Dept' equivalent, which was identical in form. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 27 - on the Roker Circle route - at Roker Terrace; photo undated, but probably taken around the time of the Great War. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.
Sunderland Corporation Tramways employee, probably a motorman, pictured rather prosaically outside his outhouse - photo undated, but possibly taken around the Great War or in the 1920s. Author's collection.
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 52 on Villette Rd, photo taken in 1922. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.
Blow-up of the above photo showing the cap badge, collar and epaulette insignia (button, staff number and shield badge).
Possible SCT epaulette badge - nickel.
Conductor Bob Richardson (Employee No 360) and his motorman (Employee No 79) pose in front of their tramcar - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1930s given that these balcony cars, with their 5-panel windscreens, had all been scrapped by 1938. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Motorman Roger Pickering in front of ex-Bury Tramcar No 85, with the last service to leave the terminus at Seaburn when the Circle route closed on the night of Sunday 3rd January 1954. It was a wild night and the rain poured down as No 85 arrived at the terminus, crewed by the aforementioned Mr Pickering and conductress Mrs Sally Rooks; it also carried a Sunderland Echo reporter. When it set off again, the only fare-paying passenger (and the last one of countless thousands to travel home along the sea front) was 18-year old Malcolm Fraser, to whom I am indebted for this information. Thanks also to Stephen Howarth for drawing my attention to the photo.
SCT employee number or licence badge, of the type clearly seen on the preceding photo. This particular example was worn by James Edward Hagan, who worked on the Sunderland Corporation Transport buses around 1959/60. Author's collection.
Motorman and conductor (Employee No 140) pose for the camera of M J O'Connor in the interior of Tramcar No 87 at Seaburn - 1st September 1954; - with modern soft-topped caps. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
An unknown Sunderland Corporation Transport conductor - photo probably taken after the demise of the tramways, but almost certainly wearing the same style of jacket worn by tramcar crews in the system's latter years. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
A blow-up of the 1905 depot photo above showing some of the inspectors, who appear to be wearing fairly typical 'tramway inspector' garb, along with kepi-style caps with a small cap badge above a grade badge (in embroidered script lettering).
A rare shot of an SCT inspector - photo taken in 1913 at the Roker terminus, towards the southern end of Roker Terrace, with Tramcar No 10 in the background, a vehicle which was to have the dubious distinction, three years later, of being destroyed by a Zeppelin airship. Photo and background information kindly supplied by Malcolm Fraser.
Probable Sunderland Corporation Tramways inspector's badge - nickel. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.
An unidentified tramcar with depot staff, conductresses and senior staff member (?) in the Wheatsheaf depot yard in April 1916. This photograph was taken just after Tram No 10 was destroyed by Zeppelin L11 (see damage to buildings behind the tram). Photo and background information kindly supplied by Malcolm Fraser.
A blow-up of the above photo showing an individual who may be senior staff member (foreman?); no other photos from this era show this jacket, or collar insignia (these suggest a senior grade), though the cap badge appears to be of the standard pattern.
Bob Nesbitt, ready for his first day as an inspector on Saturday 7th August 1947; he eventually retired some 28 years later as a Divisional Inspector in 1975. With thanks to his son John Nesbitt for the background information, and Malcolm Fraser for the photograph.
A nicely posed photo of female tramway staff - undated, but almost certainly taken during the GreatWar. The lady on the front row at the left is Jean Newton (see below), and at the back, third from the left left is Annie Goodhall (see also below). Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.
Conductress Jean Newton - photo dated 1916. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Studio portrait of conductress E Rooke - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.
Motorwoman Annie Goodall, pictured together with a points boy (Employee No 9) in 1918. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
An evocative studio portrait of a Sunderland Corporation Tramways Great War lady inspector. Author's collection.
A blow-up of the above photo, revealing the cap badge to be the same as that worn by male inspectors.
A particularly evocative photo of lady conductresses aboard a tramcar platform during the Second World War. The lady at the right (front) is Inspector Muriel Newton. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.
The first batch of conductresses recruited (during the Second World War) troop past one of the eight tramcars purchased from Huddersfleid in Wheat Sheaf depot yard - photo taken on Tuesday 23rd July 1940. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.