Tynemouth and District Tramways

Summary
The Tynemouth & District began life as a horse tramway in 1880, transitioned to steam four years later, and somehow managed to survive through to electrification in 1901, despite passing through the hands of four seperate companies (and countless owners), two liquidations, and at least two closures, not including the final one for regauging and conversion to electric working!

Photographs of the early horse-drawn period have not survived, so it is may never be known for certain whether uniforms were issued or not, however, given that none appear to have been worn during the subsequent steam-worked era, it seems more than likely that informal attire was worn. Although surviving photographs from the steam era stem overwhelmingly from the last few years of the system's life, they clearly show that drivers wore railway footplate-like attire, primarily, heavy cotton jackets and trousers, and cloth caps; no badges were worn. Conductors wore informal attire: jackets, trousers and the fashionable headgear of the day, soft-topped caps or flat caps; in earlier years, bowler hats were no doubt much favoured, though photographic evidence is unfortunately lacking. Once again, badges or licences were not worn.

The company was taken over by the British Electric Traction Company in 1897, a concern whose express intention was to electrify the system, and which included renaming - in 1899 - to the 'Tyneside and District Electric Traction Co Ltd". Despite this, staff working the steam tram services continued to wear the same informal attire as they had under the previous owners, the North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways Company.

At its zenith, the British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BETCo) either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. The photos below clearly show that Tynemouth staff wore the familiar and largely regulation BETCo uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BETCo systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern.

Photos of the early years are scarce, but those which have survived show that conductors and motormen were issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons (of the standard BETCo pattern - see link), the upper two being mounted between the jacket lapels and collars; by analogy with other BETCo systems, the latter probably bore embroidered system initials. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and stiff glossy peak; they bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, worn above an employee number (in individual numerals). The badges and buttons were almost certainly brass. At some point, probably in the late Edwardian era, a change was made to double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter carried individual letters on the bearer's right-hand side (’T & D T’), and an employee number on the left, all presumably brass to match the buttons.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and with upright collars; the latter bore ‘Inspector’ on both sides in embroidered script lettering. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown; they bore the standard ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge mounted above the grade ('Inspector'), which was carried on a hat band in embroidered script lettering. The Chief Inspector's uniform differed only in respect of the grade, which appeared in two lines on the collars and a single line on the cap.

In common with many tramway systems, the Tynemouth and District Electric Traction Company employed female staff during the Great War to replace male employees lost to the armed services. The ladies were probably issued with tailored single-breasted jackets with five buttons and a waist belt (with button fastening), along with long matching skirts. Headgear took the form of a baggy cap with a glossy peak; these carried standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badges, though seemingly without an employee number. Female staff were also issued with long, single-breasted overcoats with lapels and epaulettes; the latter had a button fastening, but appear to have been otherwise devoid of insignia. Unlike the vast majority of UK tramway systems, female staff appear to have continued in employment for at least a couple of years after 1918.

For more information on the pre-electric era, see: 'A History of the British Steam Tram - Volume 4' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon Publishing (2008).

Images

Steam tram drivers and conductors
North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways Steam Tram No 4
A slightly battered-looking Black, Hawthorn & Co-built Steam Tram No 2 stands with Milnes Trailer No 1 in Suez Street on an occasion which clearly necessitated the presence of various dignitaries. Given that the 'North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways Limited' only began services in June 1890, after the system had not apparently run for some time (following liquidation), the photograph may well have been taken to commemorate this event. The driver is certainly not wearing a uniform, and neither are any of the possible candidates for a conductor. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.


North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways Steam Tram No 4 1900
Steam Tram No 4 - a Thomas Green product - and Trailer No 5 at Tynemouth; the photo is very late in the system's life, circa 1900, and certainly when it was owned by the British Electric Traction Company. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.


North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways steam tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo, showing the driver, who is wearing typical railway-footplate like attire, including a flat cap.


North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways steam tram conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the rather bored-looking conductor, again in informal attire, without insignia of any kind. The poster behind him can also be used to date the photo, as 'Tynemouth Palace' was only opened in 1898, and the system closed in 1900.


North Shields and Tynemouth District Tramways Steam Tram No 3 and crew
Steam Tram No 3 - a Black, Hawthorn Company product - seen very late in its life, and apparently carrying an advert which it took with it to the scarpyard, so definitely in BETCo days, and probably in 1899 or even 1900. Both men are wearing informal attire with flat caps. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.


Motormen and conductors
Tynemouth and District Tramways crew with Tramcar No 12
Tramcar No 12 and crew pose for the cameraman in John Street, Cullercoats - photo undated, but probably taken in the early-to-mid Edwardian era. Author's collection.


Tynemouth and District Tramways crew with Tramcar No 12
Blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, both of whom are wearing double-breasted jackets with lapels, and caps with the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, above an employee number.


British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass


Tynemouth and District Tramways crew with Tramcar No 3
Conductor and motorman posing with Tramcar No 3 at Whitley Bay in 1915. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.


Tynemouth and District Tramways motorman circa 1918
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 5 - probably taken at Whitley Bay during or just after the Great War. His cap bears the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge and an employee number (possibly either 11 or 12), whilst his right-hand collar bears individual 'T&DT' initials. Author's collection.


Tynemouth and District Tramways staff photo
A line up of various tramcar crews, depot staff and managers - photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1920s. Author's collection.


Tynemouth and District Tramways motormen and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo showing a number of the motormen and conductors.


Tynemouth and District Tramways tramcar crew
Conductor and motorman (Employee No 3) posing on the steps of their tramcar - date unknown. The conductor is not wearing an employee number on either his cap or his left-hand collar; instead, the latter bears a standard BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ badge. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.


Senior staff
Tynemouth and District Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the 1920's staff photo above showing the Chief Inspector (top left) and an inspector (top right). Both men are wearing typical tramway inspector garb, differing only in the embroidered grade badges on their collars and caps.


Female staff
Tynemouth and District Tramways conductress circa 1918
A conductress poses for the cameraman with Tramcar No 5, from the same photo as the motorman above, circa 1918. Although her baggy cap bears a 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, it has no employee number. Author's collection.