Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways

Summary
Photos taken around the time of opening indicate that motormen and conductors wore single-breasted jackets with lapels, the entire ensemble, including buttons, being devoid of insignia. Caps were in a kepi-style with a stiff glossy peak; they bore 'off-the-shelf' grade badges, above which, a small badge of unknown pattern was worn, presumably bearing some kind of municipal device. These uniforms were eventually replaced (probably in the mid-to-late Edwardian era) by double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom), epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars; the latter probably carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side, and system initials - either 'S C T' or 'S S C T' - on the right-hand side. The caps appear to have been changed at the same time to a military style with a tensioned crown (top); photographs suggest that the previous cap badges were dispensed with at this time, being replaced by a new municipal badge comprising a shield surmounted by a ship, above the motto 'Forti Nihil Difficile' (within a ribbon). It seems probable that both badges and buttons were nickel.

At some point after the Great War, and following the grant of official arms to Southend-on-Sea County Borough Council (in 1915), a second new style of cap badge was introduced, incorporating the new arms, crest and motto. Script-lettering grade badges - 'Motorman' and 'Conductor' - appear to have been reintroduced around same time, being worn beneath the new municipal badge; all badges were nickel.

In the 1930s, new double-breasted, naval-style jackets were introduced with two rows of closely spaced buttons, three waist/hip level pockets (with flaps) and lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side (preceded by either an 'M' or 'C' for 'Motorman' and 'Conductor') and system initials - 'S C T' - on the right-hand side. The script-lettering cap badges were probably dispensed with at the same time.

The last change made to the uniforms was the introduction of a new chrome 'Transport' cap badge, which consisted of the municipal device beneath a ribbon containing the full system title - 'Southend-on-Sea Corporation Transport' - inlaid with green enamel, all above a lozenge containing an employee number; although the badges themselves were chrome, examples have survived with both chrome and nickel numbers.

Staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes (with button fastening) and high, fold-over collars; the latter were sometimes left plain, but when not, carried an employee number (on the bearer's left-hand side) and system initials - 'S C T' or 'S S C T' - on the right-hand side. In the 1930s, conductors were issued with long, double-breasted, light-coloured dust coats, which had collars of a darker colour; these were presumably for summer wear, and may have been limited to conductors working on the cross-bench cars used on the circular tours.

Photographs of inspectors are rare, and those that have survived only show them in double-breasted overcoats, so it is unclear what jackets were worn underneath; the overcoats bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering on the collars. Caps were military in style and probably bore a script-lettering, embroidered grade badge, though this awaits photographic confirmation.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, Southend employed the services of female staff during the Great War to replace male employees lost to the armed services. These ladies appear only to have been employed as conductresses, and unfortunately, the only surviving photographs show them in greatcoats, so details of the uniform jackets, which were presumably worn underneath, are unknown. The greatcoats were in a double-breasted 'lancer style' with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom), epaulettes (with button closure) and high fold-over collars; the latter were usually left plain, though a studio portrait has survived (see below) with the collars clearly bearing employee numbers. The epaulettes bore a badge of some description, possibly the municipal device badge, whilst headgear was the standard style of military cap worn by male staff. The preferred arrangement of cap badges appears to have been a grade badge - 'Conductor' - worn above an employee number (in individual metal numerals, almost certainly nickel); however, several permutations are on display in the staff photo shown below, involving all three types of badge ('Conductor', employee number and municipal shield).

For a history of Southend-on-Sea's tramway system, see 'Southend Corporation Transport: Trams, Trackless and Buses' by Richard Delahoy; Yarnacott Publications (1986).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram No 5
One of the 1-10 series cars (probably No 5), captured on a Prittlewell service - photo undated, but almost certainly taken around the time of opening. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways 1901 tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, an inspector and the motorman. The crewmen are wearing plain single-breasted jackets along with kepi-style caps; the latter bear grade badges and a small badge, presumably bearing a municipal device of some description. The inspector appears to be wearing a double-breasted overcoat and a soft-topped, military style cap.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram No 12 1901
The crew of Tramcar No 12 pose with a smartly turned-out Tramcar No 12 at Bournes Green, at the end of the newly completed Southchurch Boulevard track, dating the photo to between July 1913 and July 1914. Author's collection.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways conductor and motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman in greater detail. By this time, the caps were military in style, and bore a new municipal arms badge, almost certainly the pattern shown below, which was markedly larger than the badge seen in the earliest photos.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge - nickel. This appears to have been worn from around the mid-Edwardian era through to the end of the Great War. Photo courtesy of Michael Wood.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways circular tour tram
A postcard view of Tramcar No 14 on a Circular Tour service - although these started in 1914, this shot was possibly taken after the Great War. The conductor (left) and motorman (right) are both wearing the usual 'lancer-style' tunics, but with script-lettering grade badges. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 14
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 14 in 1927; he is wearing the new municipal cap badge (see below) above a script-lettering grade badge: 'Motorman'.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge - nickel - introduced during or shortly after the Great War (following the grant of official arms on 1st January 1915) and worn through to the mid 1930s. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Southampton Corporation Tramways cap badges
Script-lettering cap badges of the type worn by Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways staff from around the time of the Great War to the mid-1930s - nickel.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways motorman
Sounthend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways motorman - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1930s. The uniform jacket had by this time been changed to a double-breasted naval style.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways motorman
Blow-up of the above photo showing details of the collar insignia: 'M' and the employee number on the bearer's left-hand side, and 'S C T' on the right-hand side.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge - chrome - possibly worn from the early to mid 1930s, though it may well post-date the demise of the tramway.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram No 43
Motorman and white-coated conductor with Toastrack Car No 43 on a Boulevard service - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, in white dust coat and with the new 'Transport' cap badge.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram No 43 and conductor
Another shot of No 43, possibly taken on the same day, and with conductor in double-breasted dust coat. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways cap badge
Southend-on Sea Corporation Transport cap badge No 123 - chrome and green enamel. This pattern of badge was introduced in the mid-to-late 1930s and was worn up until closure of the system in 1942.



Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram No 41 and driver
A rare colour shot of a motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 41 in the last summer of operation. Photograph courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society; photographer believed to be W A Camwell.


Senior staff
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the 1901 shot above showing the inspector, who is wearing an overcoat with lapels, the upper part of which bears embroidered script-lettering (presumably the grade).


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Tram 60
Tramcar No 60 captured in Warrior Square with a Light Railway Transport League outing on the 8th February 1942, just two months prior to closure. The figure on the right is more than likely an inspector.


Female staff
Southend on Sea Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A rare studio portrait of a Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Great War conductress, Employee No 62. Author's Collection.


Southend on Sea Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform, including the shield-shaped cap badge. Magnification of the buttons (not shown) reveals them to be the standard borough pattern with title and sailing ship (see link).


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways conductresses
A group of 30 Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways conductresses - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Source unknown.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses
A blow-up of the above photo revealing that all present are wearing 'lancer-style' greatcoats with epaulettes, and long skirts underneath.


Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses
Another blow-up of the same photo showing the caps, which appear identical to those worn by their male colleagues. Unlike the latter, the script-lettering grade badge is complemented - in most cases - by an employee number, though the lady shown in the centre has the more familiar municipal badge.