St Helens Corporation Tramways

Summary
Photographs of St Helens Corporation Tramways electric tramcars, either during the years the system was operated by the New St Helens and District Tramways Company (1897 to 1919) or by the corporation itself (1919 to 1936), are surprisingly scarce, and those depicting staff are rarer still. Given the paucity of photographic evidence, it is currently therefore impossible to describe either the evolution of the uniforms or the associated badges.

The two early photographs below, taken during the tenure of the New St Helens and District Tramways Company, indicate that staff working the new electric services wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons, a breast pocket, and lapels; the jackets do not appear to have borne insignia of any kind. Caps were in a kepi-style with a glossy peak, and probably bore a large oval cap badge, possibly of embroidered cloth. During these years, motormen — and probably conductors too — were required to wear round municipal licences when operating the services. At some point, possibly following the corporation take-over of 1919, a switch was made to double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter almost certainly carried badges of some description, most probably system initials and/or employee numbers, though these cannot unfortunately be made out on the surviving photographs. Caps were also changed to a military-style with a tensioned crown (top); they appear to have borne a prominent cap badge, though exactly what form this took is currently unknown.

Conductors and motormen were also issued with long double-breasted overcoats/greatcoats, with two rows of four buttons; once again, no badges of any description appear to have been carried.

During the early years of operation, inspectors working for the New St Helens and District Tramways Company wore similar uniforms to tramcar staff, along with kepi-style caps. The latter bore a large oval cap badge, possibly of embroidered cloth.

Although many systems employed female tramcar staff during the Great War, to replace men lost to the armed services, I can find no evidence that St Helens did so; however, given the rarity of published material — photographic or otherwise — it remains a distinct possibility that they did.

For a history of the system, see: 'St Helens Tramways' by E K Stretch; St Helens Corporation Transport (1968).

Images

Motormen and conductors
New St Helens and District Trmawys Company Tram No 2
Conductor (rear) and Motorman (at the controls) pose for the cameraman with what is probably a brand-new Tramcar No 2, dating the photograph to very late in 1899 or early in 1900. The proprietorial-looking individual holding the stanchion is more than likely an inspector. Author's Collection.


New St Helens and District Tramways Company tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman. He is wearing a double-breasted jacket and a kepi-style cap; although the image is rather poor, it seems to suggest that the cap bore a large oval cap badge.


New St Helens and District Tramways Company tram crew
The crew of a brand-new Tramcar No 5 pose for the cameraman on a St Helens to Nutgrove service in 1900, the motorman in a flat cap, suggesting that the kepis were in short supply. Once again it is impossible to discern whether or not the conductor's kepi bears a cap badge, though if it did, the fact that no reflection is evident would tend to suggest that it was cloth. Author's Collection.


St Helens electric tram
Three tramway men, a driver (?), conductor and driver, pose with Tramcar No 34 in New St Helens and District Tramways Company days — photo undated, but probably taken in the early Edwardian era. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


St Helens Corporation Tramways Tram No 2
A rare photograph of a St Helens Corporation Tramways tram crew, seated on the fender of Tramcar No 2 — photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1930s (No 2 was withdrawn in 1934). Photo by M J O'Connor, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


St Helens Corporation Tramways tram conductor and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman and conductor in more detail. Both men are wearing 'lancer-style' tunics and military-style caps, along with municipal licences.


Senior staff
New St Helens and District Tramways Company inspector
A blow-up of the photograph of Tramcar No 2 above, showing the inspector. His jacket appears to be plain — i.e. devoid of insignia — whereas his cap clearly carries a large oval cap badge, which appears to be of embroidered cloth.