Sunderland District Electric Tramways

Motormen and conductors wore double-breasted, cross-over style tunics with two rows of five buttons, two waist pockets, epaulettes and upright collars. The latter carried individual metal employee numbers on both sides, whilst the epaulettes had a button fastening at the neck end and bore what appears to be an employee number at the shoulder end. Staff also frequently wore long double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons, high fold-over collars and epaulettes with button fastening; the latter appeared to have carried employee numbers, in similar fashion to the tunics.

Caps were initially of the upright military variety with a glossy peak, and carried non-underlined, script-lettering cap badges, either ‘Conductor’ or ‘Motorman’, presumably in brass to match the buttons (see link). Around the time of the First World War, these badges appear to have been replaced by large oval cap badges (possibly enamel) of an unknown pattern.

In common with the vast majority of tramway operators, the SDET employed female staff during World War One to make up for the loss of male staff to the armed forces. It is unclear what tunics were issued to these ladies, as surviving photographs only show them in long double-breasted ovecoats of seemingly identical design to those worn by their male colleagues. Ladies were issued with a large baggy caps with glossy peaks, which bore the new oval cap badge.

Inspectors wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and lapels, the latter probably bearing ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering. Caps were the same as issued to motormen and conductors, but probably bore ‘inspector’, more than likely in embroidered script lettering.


Sunderland and District Electric Tramways
A staff photo taken in taken in September 1908. Note that all uniformed staff, bar those at the front, are wearing cross-over style tunics, and that many of these individuals appear to be wearing some kind of licence. The six men wearing double-breasted jackets (seated at the front) are presumably inspectors. With thanks to Peter Searle.

Sunderland and District Electric Tramways
Conductor 111 and his motorman pose in front of Tramcar No 18, bound for Houghton le Spring at Penshaw Station in 1911. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.

Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering cap badges of the type used by the S&DET - brass.

Sunderland and District Electric Tramways
The crew of Tramcar No 21(2) at the Grangetown terminus on the south side of the junction with Ocean Road - photo undated, but probably taken between 1918 and 1920. Note that both employees are wearing a large oval cap badge rather than the standard script-lettering badges seen earlier. With grateful thanks to Malcolm Fraser.

Sunderland and District Electric Tramways
Another view of a tramcar crew at Grangetown terminus, this time with No 14 - photo undated, but probably taken between 1918 and 1920, possibly even on the same day as the photo above. The motorman is thought to be Peter James of Houghton le Spring. Note that Mr James is wearing his 'new' cap badge in the middle of his overcoat! With thanks to Paul Lanagan.

Sunderland and District Electric Tramways
S&DET tram car crew posing with their vehicle (No 13) at the terminus in Ryhope Road, Grangetown. This was the second car to be numbered 13 - being delivered in December 1920 and withdrawn on 7th November 1924 - thus dating the photo to this period (my thanks go to Malcolm Fraser for this information). Both crew men are wearing double-breasted overcoats bearing two rows of five buttons. The conductor’s cap clearly bears the large oval cap badge seen in the above photos. Note that the S&DET also ran buses, and indeed continued to run them - initially as the Sunderland and District Transport Co, then the Sunderland and District Ombinus Co - for half a century after the demise of the trams. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.