Walsall Corporation Tramways

Summary
Although Walsall Corporation took over ownership of just over a mile of track within its boundaries in 1899, it didn't actually begin operating services itself until the opening of the newly built Bloxwich extension on the first day of 1904.

Motormen and conductors were initially issued with double-breasted, cross-over tunics with two rows of five buttons (presumably brass - see link) and upright collars; the latter carried some kind of insignia, possibly a municipal shield on the right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side, though confirmation must await clearer photographic evidence. Headgear took the form of tall, pillbox-style caps with glossy peaks. These bore a large brass fretwork-style cap badge with the initials 'W.C.T' across the top and the grade across the bottom, and at least for drivers, a class designation in the centre. Only one of these badges is known to have survived (see below) - for a 'Class 1' Driver - which suggests that at least 'Class 2' existed and maybe even 'Class 3'; whether conductors were similarly treated is unknown. These badges are virtually identical in form to those worn by the staff of Bradford City Tramways during its early years.

In later years (possibly around the time of the Great War) a change was made to more modern double-breasted jackets with two rows of closely spaced buttons, epaulettes (button fastened) and lapels; each lapel carried a small one-piece municipal arms badge incorporating an employee number, and were probably nickel (see below). Caps were also changed to a somewhat unusual soft-topped design with a glossy peak, and these also bore a one-piece municipal arms badge, again probably nickel, but this time incorporating the wearer's grade - either 'Driver' or 'Conductor' (see below).

By the 1920s, lightweight double-breasted overcoats with two rows of four buttons and lapels were issued - presumably in summer - along with white rain covers for the caps.

Female staff were almost certainly employed in the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; details of the uniforms worn are however unknown, as are those of more senior staff such as inspectors.

Images

Walsall Corporation Tramways tramcar No 12 and crew
Conductor and motorman pose with what is almost certainly a brand new Tramcar No 12 on the Walsall Wood line - photo undated, but probably take at or shortly after the inauguration of municipal services, 1st January 1904. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Walsall Corporation Tramways motorman / driver
Blow-up of the above photo, clearly showing the motorman's kepi-style cap and the distinctively shaped cap badge (see below).


Walsall Corporation Tramways cap badge
Edwardian era Walsall Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Walsall Corporation Tramways Car No 11 and crew
Conductor and motorman pose for the cameraman with Tramcar No 11at Brown Lion in Pleck - on a through service over South Staffordshire Tramways Company tracks to Darlaston and Bilston - photo undated, but probably taken around 1907 when through services were inaugurated. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Walsall Corporation Tramways Car No 1 and crew
Conductor and motorman with their charge - a recently outshopped Tramcar No 1 - at the Kings Arms in High St, with a service to Bloxwich; photo undated, but probably taken in 1905/6 as No 1 is top covered (not shown) and was originally delivered in open-topped form. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


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Driver (in summer coat) and conductor with Tramcar No 24 at Wednesbury in 1931. By this time the jackets had been changed to a much more modern double-breasted design with lapels. Note that both men are wearing soft-topped, railway-like caps with a new style of cap badge. Photo by H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Walsall Corporation Tramways cap badge
Later era lapel badge - nickel. Author's collection.



Later era lapel badge - chrome. Author's collection.


Walsall Corporation Tramways driver badge
Probable tramway-era driver's cap badge - chrome. Author's collection.


Walsall Corporation Tramways Car No 24 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 40 in their summer coats at the Bloxwich terminus - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1932 or 33. Note the military-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.