South Shields Tramways
(Company and Carriage Company)
Although little is known about the first South Shields Tramways Company (1883 to 1886), it probably followed the general practice of most horse-tramway companies in not issuing uniforms. Therefore, and in all probability, staff would have simply worn robust clothing, such as heavy jackets and overcoats, along with the fashionable head gear of the day (usually bowler hats or flat caps at this time). Photos of the subsequent South Shields Tramways and Carriage Company period, prior to its takeover by the British Electric Traction Company (i.e., 1887 to 1899), indicate that staff wore a variety of informal attire such as jackets, shirts and ties, heavy overcoats (particularly drivers), along with either bowler hats or the seemingly ubiquitous flat cap. No insignia of any kind is in evidence.
Following the BET takeover (i.e., 1899 to 1906), staff were issued with single-breasted uniform jackets with five buttons and upright collars; the latter probably bore some insignia, though the precise form cannot be made out on surviving photographs. However, given that standard BET practice was for a staff number to be worn on the left-hand collar and company initials on the right-hand collar, it seems more than likely that the same policy was also appled to the SST&CCo.
Caps were in a cloth kepi style with a glossy peak, and appear at first to have carried some kind of embroidered script badge (possibly 'Driver' and 'Conductor'), rather than the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge (see below). However, at some point these caps appear to have been replaced with a stiffer kepi style cap bearing the standard BET badge above metal numerals (staff number).
Drivers are invariably shown wearing heavy double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars. The latter probably carried identical insignia to that worn on the jacket collars.
Tramcar No 12 at Bents Park on the Pier to Laygate Lane route - photo undated, but certainly before the BET takeover in 1899. Photo by W Laws, with thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Tramcar No 10 at Tyne Dock - photo undated but probably taken around 1894. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Tramcar No 6 at Bents Park - photo undated, but possibly in the late 1880s given that the driver appears to be wearing a top hat. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Driver and conductor pose with Tramcar No 9 at Bents Park - photo undated but possibly not long after the BET takeover (1899). Note that both driver and conductor are now wearing uniforms with Kepi style caps, but without the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Conductor and driver pose with Tramcar No 8 in front of the Sea Water Baths at Pier Parade - photo undated but possibly taken in 1905. Note that both men appear to be wearing BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badges. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass