West Ham Corporation Tramways

Summary
Crews working the new electric services - introduced from 1904 onwards - were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures) and upright collars; the material was blue serge with red piping (see The Tramways of East London by Rodinglea; T&LRS and LRTL, 1967). Caps were in the upright military style with a glossy black peak, and bore a large, elaborate brass cap badge comprising the municipal arms, within an oval surround containing the full system title ('West Ham Tramways') inlaid with blue enamel, all within a wreath (see below). At least some, if not all members of staff wore an oval badge of some description (probably embroidered), on the upper left arm of their uniform jackets. Although the jacket collars initially appear to have been plain, at some point, and certainly by the mid-Edwardian era, a small municipal arms badge was added to the left-hand side, and possibly, an employee number to the right-hand side; epaulettes were probably introduced at the same time.

The uniforms were changed some time around the Great War to a more modern single-breasted design with lapels; these were probably grey serge rather than the earlier blue. The badges that were formerly worn on the upright collars were probably now worn on the upper lapels, though conclusive photographic evidence is currently lacking.

Tramcar staff were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter initially appear not to have borne any insignia, but certainly bore badges in later years, almost certainly the same as worn on the jackets underneath. Like all other London tramway systems, motormen and conductors were required to where Public Service Vehicle badges (see link); these took the form of a large oval enamel disc (colours varied over the years) which was hung from a leather strap, usually on the bearer's left breast.

Inspectors initially wore elaborate single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair) and upright collars; the latter probably bore 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be stated with certainty. These elaborate jackets probably didn't last long, and were almost certainly replaced by a more practical jacket. Caps were in the upright military style and bore a large oval cap badge, possibly the same pattern worn by tramcar staff. In later years, inspectors were issued with long double-breasted overcoats, possibly made of gabardine.

The vast majority of UK tramway systems employed female staff during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; it is however currently unknown whether West ham did likewise.

For a history of the system, see: 'The Tramways of East London' by Rodinglea; The Tramway & Light Railway Society and The Light Railway Transport League (1967).

Images

Motormen and conductors
West Ham Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 43 and crew
Conductor (in overcoat) and motorman with Tramcar No 43 at Wanstead Flats - photo undated, but judging by the pristine condition of the tram, probably taken in late 1904 when this route opened. Both men are wearing upright military caps that bear the elaborate 'West Ham Corporation Tramways' cap badge. Whilst the motorman is clearly wearing a Type DM1 'Mechanical Power' PSV badge, the conductor's (No 7832) is less clear, though it may be a Type C2. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


West Ham Corporation Tramways cap badge
West Ham Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass and blue enamel.


West Ham Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 37 and crew
Another shot taken at the terminus at Wanstead Flats, again undated, and once again probably taken in 1904 when this route opened. Other than the buttons, the jackets appear to be completely devoid of insignia. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


West Ham Corporation Tramways conductor
West Ham conductor poses for the cameraman on the front footstep of Tramcar No 53 at Wanstead Flats, probably taken in late 1904 or 1905. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


West Ham Corporation Tramways motorman
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar 1A (a water car) outside Greengate St Depot, which opened on 25th October 1906 - the photo is undated, but was probably taken not long afterwards. Note that the subject's collar clearly has a badge of some description, probably a corporation coat of arms device (see below). The left-arm of his jacket also bears a badge, possibly embroidered, which can also be seen in the shot of Tramcar No 37 above. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


West Ham Corporation Tramways collar badge
West Ham Corporation Tramways collar badge - brass.


West Ham Corporation Tramways motorman Tram No 11
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 11 on Service 63 to Aldgate, which was introduced on 1st January 1913 - although the photo is undated, it was probably taken just prior to or during the Great War. The subject's PSV badge is almost certainly a 'Mechanical Power' Type DM3. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Colin Withey.


West Ham Corporation tramways Tram No 68 and motorman
Conductor on the platform of Tramcar No 68 on Service 63 to Ilford - photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1930s given that No 68 was new in 1931. The subject's PSV badge is probably a Type C4 'Conductor'. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Colin Withey.


West Ham Corporation Tramways Tram No 33 and motorman 1933
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 33 in Canning Town on 21st August 1933. Although this shot was taken some 8 weeks after ownership of the system had passed to the London Passenger Transport Board, the subject is still wearing a West Ham Corporation Tramways uniform. Photo by M J O'Connor, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


West Ham Corporation Tramways Tram No 20 and motorman 1933
Another M J O'Connor photograph taken in 1933, just after the LPTB takeover. Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 20 on Service No 6 to Stratford. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Colin Withey.

Senior staff
West Ham Corporation Tramways inspector
An inspector (right) poses for the camera with what is evidently a brand new 1-50 series tramcar - photo undated, but probably taken in 1904. The inspector is wearing a very elaborate jacket, which probably carries embroidered 'Inspector' badges on the upright collars. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Colin Withey.


West Ham Corporation Tramways inspectors
A group of tramway staff captured at a tram stop alongside which is Tramcar No 90 (on Service 10 - Inner Circle) - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. The figure in the centre, as well the individual second from left, both of whom appear to be wearing gabardine-style overcoats, are more than likely inspectors. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Colin Withey.