Swindon Corporation Tramways
Images from the early years of tramway operation in Swindon, which show tramway staff with any degree of clarity, are very sparse indeed. The first example below is unfortunately undated, but was very probably taken shortly after opening. The motorman and conductor appear to be wearing open-necked jackets with shirts and ties, and flat, railway-style caps. Given that later photographs clearly and consistently show staff wearing tunics with upright collars, buttoned-up at the neck, it would appear that tramcar staff were initially issued a very different style of uniform, or possibly, that uniforms were not ready in time for the opening, and informal attire was worn.
At some point - currently unknown, but certainly by 1910 - staff wore fairly standard tramway jackets, single-breasted with five brass buttons (see link), and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number in individual metal numerals on the left-hand side and the system initials - 'S C T' - in individual metal numerals, on the right-hand side, almost certainly in brass to match the buttons. Photos indicate that motormen's jackets had two breast pockets whilst conductors' had two waist pockets.
Caps were in a upright military style with glossy peak and carried a script-lettering cap badge, almost certainly in brass, either 'Motorman' or Conductor'. A small brass Swindon shield badge was usually, but not always, worn above the script-lettering cap badges. An example of a Swindon municipal cap badge is depicted below, but this may not be the same as those issued to tramway staff as there appear to be differences in the overall shape.
Inspectors wore single-breasted tunics with hidden buttons and upright collars; the latter appear to have carried 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Caps were similar to those issued to other grades, and probably carried the word 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering.
Ladies were employed from early 1917 onwards to replace male employees lost to the armed services, though in the case of Swindon, as conductresses only. Uniforms consisted of single-breasted jackets with five buttons, waist belt, breast pockets (with button fastenings), lapels and epaulettes. The latter had a button at the neck end and appear to have carried metal employee numerals. Long matching skirts were worn, whilst caps and cap insignia appear to have been identical to those issued to male employees.
For a history of the system, see: 'The Swindon Tramways' by L. J. Dalby; The Oakwood Press (1973).
Motormen and conductors
Conductor and motorman pose for the photographer aboard Tramcar No 4 on the Rodbourne Rd route - photo undated, but very probably taken shortly after opening. In marked contrast to later photos, both men are wearing open-necked jackets with collar and tie, as well as flatter railway-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
A Swindon Corporation Tramways staff photo taken outside the Great Western Railway restaurant - photo undated, but given the presence of female employees, almost certainly taken during or shortly after the First World War. A shield-shaped 'coat of arms' cap badge is clearly being worn by several of the individuals above, and possibly by the majority, as the summer rain covers may well be obscuring them on others' caps. Almost everyone is also wearing a small, round badge on their jackets, very possibly an 'On War Service' badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.
A blow-up of the above photo, clearly showing the 'S C T' collar initials and employee numbers, as well as the small, shield-shaped 'coat of arms' badge worn above the standard script-lettering cap badge (right).
Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering cap badges of the type used by Swindon - brass.
A staff photo taken in 1924 on the day of Swindon Carnival. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Blow-up of the above photo showing seven conductors and motormen. Note that two are wearing the small municipal cap badge above their script-lettering badges, whilst four are not.
Small Swindon 'coat of arms' cap badge - brass, but without the motto ribbon, which the photos appear to show. The above badge may therefore pre-date the tramway as the civic motto was only granted in 1901.
A group of Swindon conductors (uncertain if tramway or bus) - photo undated, but possibly taken in the late 1920s or shortly after closure. With the exception of the figure on the right, who is possibly either a bus driver or motorcycle rider, all are wearing the previously noted 'coat of arms' cap badge above their 'Conductor' script-lettering badges. The individuals on the extreme left and right of the photo are also wearing small, round licences, almost certainly the same as those depicted below. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Possible tramway conductor licence - black on white enamel
Possible tramway driver licence - black on white enamel
A blow-up of the 1924 photograph above showing an inspector.
A blow-up of the wartime photo above showing four lady conductors. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.