Swansea and Mumbles Railway

Summary
The Swansea and Mumbles Railway, and its initial incarnation, the curiously titled 'Oystermouth Railway or Tram Road Company', was much more of a railway than a tramway, with horse-drawn passenger services being provided by a procession of lessees up to 1877. There is no evidence that the men working these services were issued with uniforms, and indeed, several photographs from the 1860s have survived which clearly show that informal attire was worn. In 1877 however, the Swansea Improvements and Tramways Company introduced the first steam-hauled services on the line, which despite the fact it was a railway, used street tramway-like coaches and Hughes-built steam tram engines. The SITCo steam service lasted barely a year before being replaced by horse-drawn traction, primarily as a result of a legal challenge from the railway's new owners. Drivers working the short-lived steam services wore standard railway footplate attire, whereas conductors were issued with blue serge uniforms with red piping; jackets were double-breasted with two rows of three buttons (probably bearing the SITCo title and unofficial Swansea arms - see link) and lapels. Hats appear to have been in the kepi-style - it is however unclear whether they bore a badge of any description.

Following the cessation of SITCo steam-hauled services, the newly formed Swansea and Mumbles Railway introduced its own - although the carriages were of an unusual design, the locomotives were pure 'railway' in design. These services eventually passed into the hands of the SITCo in 1896, and it then operated these right through until electrification in 1929. Steam locomotive drivers and fireman, irrespective of whether they were employed by the railway (between 1877 and 1896) or the tramway company (1896 onwards) appear to have worn standard railway footplate attire, i.e. cotton jackets and trousers, along with either greaseproof or cotton caps, and later on flat caps. No insignia of any kind appears to have been worn on either the jackets of the caps. Although conductors working the steam services certainly wore uniforms of some description, surviving photographs do not allow details to be discerned.

In 1927, the operating lease for the Swansea and Mumbles Railway was transferred from the SITCo to the South Wales Transport Company, another wholly owned BET subsidiary. The SWTCo immediately made plans for electrification, and by the time of their introduction - in 1929 - staff were wearing double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons (almost certainly the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel issue - see link) with lapels; the latter appear to have borne the system initials - S W T Co - on both sides, possibly embroidered. Caps were in the military style with a glossy peak and bore a block lettering 'SOUTH WALES' cap badge; these were probably brass initially, but may at some point have been superseded with nickel versions. Crew members were also issued with waistcoats, as well as double breasted overcoats; the lapels of the latter once again bore 'S W T Co' initials on both sides.

With one exception, photographs of inspectors appear not to have survived, so it is currently not possible to state what uniforms they wore. The single surviving photo is of the SITCo steam tram service of 1877, and this suggests that senior staff may have worn long, single-breasted coats, along with kepi-style caps; the latter do not appear to have carried any insignia.

Female staff may have been employed during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; photographs however have yet to come to light.

Images

Horse drivers and conductors
Swansea and Mumbles Railway horse train
A single-horse, double-deck carriage - photo purportedly taken in 1868 when the services were provided by George Byng Morris. None of those present appear to bewearing a uniform, suggesting that informal attire was the order of the day. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swansea and Mumbles Railway horse train
Another photo which was probably taken in the 1860s, this time of a two-horse vehicle. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swansea and Mumbles Railway horse train
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver and assistant, both of whom are wearing informal attire.


Steam engine drivers and conductors
Swansea and Mumbles Railway Pioneer Steam tram 1877
Swansea Improvements and Tramways Company Hughes Steam Tram 'Progress' at the Rutland Street terminus in 1877. SITCo steam-hauled services lasted barely a year before they were replaced by horse-drawn services following a legal challenge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swansea and Mumbles Railway Pioneer Steam tram 1877
A blow-up of the above photo showing what appear to be two uniformed members of staff and the driver (right). Clearly the SITCo had great ambitions for steam operation, as it seems not to have issued uniforms to its horse tram staff either at this time or right through to electrification in 1900.


Swansea and Mumbles Steam Loco No 3 and crew 1920s
The crew of Loco No 3 pose for the camera at Rutland Street terminus in the 1920s. Both men are wearing typical steam locomotive footplate attire, seeming devoid of insignia. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Electric tram motormen and conductors
Swansea and Mumbles Railway Tram No 2 and motorman
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 2 on a service to Mumbles Pier - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1950s. The motorman is wearing the standard South Wales Transport cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


South Wales Transport Company Cap Badge
South Wales Transport Company cap badge - brass. These were probably worn from the start of electric services in 1929, but may at some point have been superseded by nickel versions, though this is at the moment, unclear. Author's Collection.


South Wales Transport Company Cap Badge
South Wales Transport Company cap badge - nickel. Stephen Howarth Collection.


Senior staff
Swansea and Mumbles stam tram inspectors? 1877
Blow-up of the 1877 SITCo steam tram photo above, showing two rather proprietorial-looking gentlemen, who may well be inspectors.