South Lancashire Tramways

Tramcar crews were initially issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons - narrowing from top to bottom - bearing the company title and a monogram of intertwined system initials (see link); the tunics had upright collars and epaulettes. Whilst the conductor in the 1902 photo below is wearing a tunic with plain collars (i.e. without insignia), photos taken not long afterwards clearly show that the bearer's right-hand collar bore individual systems initials 'S L T', with the epaulettes carrying insignia of some description, though exactly what remains unclear. Caps were in a kepi style with a stiff glossy peak; they carried standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges, either Driver or Conductor, though occasionally Motorman also made an appearance. These badges were almost certainly issued in brass, though a change may have been made to nickel in later years.

The kepi-style caps were superseded around 1904/5 by soft-topped military-style caps, which were in turn superseded by caps with tensioned crowns (tops), possibly as early as 1906, but certainly by 1908. The caps continued to carry script-lettering grade badges, but with Guard replacing Conductor at some point. The term 'Guard' was a designation used by a handful of systems nationally, but only Manchester Corporation Tramways, along with Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dunkinfield Tramways, actually issued badges to match, and then only as collar badges. Occasional photographs also suggest that a small round badge may have been worn above the script-lettering cap badges by some individuals, though this is far from clear.

At some point in the 1920s, a switch was made to single-breasted jackets, but for conductors only; these had five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures), epaulettes and upright collars; the latter appear to have borne 'S L T' initials, but on the right-hand side only. Towards the end of the system, around 1929/30, both motormen and conductors began to be issued with more modern single-breasted jackets with four pockets, lapels and epaulettes; the latter appear to have carried insignia of some description, possibly an employee number, though confirmation must await the discovery of more reliable photographic evidence.

Staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with high fold-over collars; no insignia, other than the buttons, was carried on these garments.

A single studio portrait of an SLT inspector has survived, which shows that in the early years of the system, they wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons, the top set buttoning through the lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) bore embroidered system initials - 'S L T' - on both sides. The jacket also bore braided epaulettes. Caps were in a military syle with a tensioned crown (top); they were embellished with braiding and bore the grade - Inspector - in embroidered scrip lettering. It is currently unclear what uniform was worn in later years.

Female conductors were employed during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed forces. These ladies were issued with long skirts and long, tailored, double-breasted jackets with lapels and epaulettes. Headwear took the form of large bonnets, which probably, though not certainly, bore a script-lettering grade badge.

For a hsitory of the system, see: 'South Lancashire Tramways 1900-1958' by E K Stretch; Manchester Transport Museum (1972)


Motormen and conductors
South Lancashire Tramways Tram No 17 Pennington 1902
The crew of Tramcar No 17 stand with their charge at Pennington in 1902 - photographer, T Boothroyd. Photo courtesy of Ted Gray.

South Lancashire Tramways tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps with standard, 'off the shelf', script lettering grade badges: Conductor and Driver. The conductor is wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic with upright collars (left plain) and epaulettes, the latter possibly carrying insignia of some description. Photo courtesy of Ted Gray.

South Lancashire Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges of the type used by the South Lancashire Tramways Company - brass. Author's Collection.

South Lancashire Tramways Motorman cap badge
General pattern script-lettering 'Motorman' cap badge, seemingly issued sporadically to South Lancashire Tramways drivers in the ealry years of operation - brass. Author's Collection.

South Lancashire Tramway tram no 33
A very smart looking Tramcar No 33 with a service bound for Hindley - although undated, the photo must have been taken no later than 1906 when the tram livery changed, and very possibly in 1904 given the excellent condition of the tram. Photo courtesy of Ted Gray.

South Lancashire Tramways Tram No 33, conductor and driver
A blow-up of the above photo, which reveals that both men are wearing soft-topped caps rather than kepis,. The motorman clearly has 'S C T' initials on his right-hand collar, and possibly insignia on the left-hand side too. The conductor would appear to be wearing informal attire, possibly awaiting the delivery of his uniform. Photo courtesy of Ted Gray.

South Lancashire Tramways Tram No 19 at Mosley Common in 1908
Tramcar No 19 stands at Mosley Common around 1908. Although the conductor is wearing a flat cap, the other two individuals, both of them probably motormen, are wearing military-style caps with tensioned crowns, confirming that these caps must have been introduced in the mid-Edwardian era. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Crew of South Lancashire Tramways tram No 60
The crew of Tramcar No 60 - bound for Black Horse - pose for the cameraman in Swinton on 19th July 1929. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.

Crew of South Lancashire Tramways tram No 60
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor (in single-breasted jacket) and motorman (in double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunic). The 'S L T' collar initials, worn on the right-hand side only, can just be made out. Whilst the motorman's cap badge is clearly Driver, the conductor's is very probably Guard.

South Lancashire Tramways No 59 and crew 1931
Conductor and motorman pose for the cameraman at Swinton Church in 1931 with Tramcar No 59. The conductor ('Guard' in SLT parlance') is wearing a modern single-breasted jacket with lapels and epaulettes. Stephen Howarth Collection.

South Lancashire Tramways Tram No 58 and driver
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 58 on 13th August 1933. He is wearing a single-breasted jacket with lapels and epaulettes, the latter carring insignia of some kind, possibly an employee number. Photograph by M J O'Connor.

Senior staff
South Lancashire Tramways inspector
A rare studio portrait of a South Lancashire Tramways inspector - photo undated, but almost certainly early Edwardian. The back of the photo bears the inscription 'Uncle Herbert, Dad's brother'. Author's Collection.

South Lancashire Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform and cap.

Female staff
South Lancashire Tramways Great War conductress
Conductress and motorman pose aboard Tramcar No 8 at Ashton-in-Makerfield with a service bound for Atherton - photo dated 1917. Author's Collection.