Sunderland Tramways Company

Summary
Several photos exist of the earliest months of the horse tramway’s existence (in 1879), and these clearly show that staff wore a variety of informal attire initially very smart (frock coats or overcoats, with bowler hats), but gradually giving way to more mundane and workmanlike clothing (heavy jackets and flat caps). The use of informal attire was common practice amongst early horse tramway operators, and indeed, many of them never saw fit to change, and thus never issued uniforms or insignia of any kind. The Sunderland Tramways Company did however revise its policy some time in the 1890s, as photos taken around this time show staff wearing single-breasted jackets with lapels, along with kepi-style caps. The latter carried a prominent curved (convex) metal badge, which possibly bore the company name and/or the employee’s designation. Unfortunately, no examples are known to have survived, so precise details remain unknown.

The STCo briefly experimented with steam traction, both drivers and conductors wearing very similar informal attire to their horse-tram counterparts.

Photographs of inspectors are unknown, and it is entirely possible that the STCo never made use of them.

For a history of Sunderland's tramways, including he horse-drawn era, see: 'Tramways of Sunderland' by S A Staddon; Advertiser Press (1964). A second, and heavily revised edition was published by the Sunderland Echo (1991).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Sunderland Tramways Company hores tram
A very prominently marked STCoLtd tramcar (possibly No 2) at the terminus at the eastern end of Harbour View - probably taken in May 1879, i.e., barely a month after the opening. The driver is wearing smart but informal attire. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram
Another shot taken at the same location, and possibly on the same day, this time of Horsecar No 1. The driver appears to be wearing something akin to a stetson! With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram 1880
The STCo's first double-deck tram (converted from a single-deck example) on its first journey in 1880. The driver and conductor (second from the right) are both wearing informal attire. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram
Another view taken at the eastern end of Harbour View, but this time looking east towards the sea — photo possibly taken in the 1880s. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram
A very similar view to the previous shot, but with the crew looking a good deal less smart (in flat caps) than in the previous photo — undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram
A scene at the terminus at the end of Harbour View showing Tramcar No 27 — photo undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. Both the driver and conductor (extreme right) are now wearing uniforms. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram driver
A blow up of the above photo. Note the kepi-style cap and
the prominent curved cap badge.


Sunderland Tramways Company horse tram
A shot taken in Fawcett St of a horsecar crossing High St West — undated, but probably taken around 1900. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Steam tram drivers and conductors
Sunderland Tramways Company Steam Tram No 2
Sunderland Tramways Company Steam Tram No 2, an unusual vehicle assembled by R & W Hawthorn from parts supplied by the Swiss Locomotive and Engine Works, Winterthur - photo possibly taken around December 1880. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Sunderland Tramways Company Steam Tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who is wearing informal attire.