Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways

All that has survived from the very earliest days of the tramway, i.e., under the aegis of the East Suffolk Tramways Company, is a pencil drawing of the opening day (not shown); although far from clear, it suggests that crews wore informal attire.

Photographs taken during the era of the Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways Company (1878 to 1900) are scarce, but those that have survived indicate that drivers and conductors wore robust but informal attire: shirt and jacket, and the horse tram driver's headgear of choice, the bowler hat. At some point, licences were issued — certainly to conductors, and possibly to drivers too — and these were suspended by a leather strap, either from a jacket button or the conductor's cash bag. They were quite large, broadly oval, and were almost certainly enamel; precise details are however unknown, as no examples appear to have survived.

At some point following the take-over by the British Electric Traction Company (this took place in 1900), uniforms were issued; this was in fact quite unusual for the BETCo, as they almost always waited until the inauguration of electric services before issuing them, understandably given that their company device included a magnet and electrical flashes. I know of only one other example where the BETCo issued uniforms to horsecar staff (Brighton and Shoreham Tramways — see link), and it is probably no coincidence that in both these cases the BETCo eventually gave up on its goal of electrification in the face of concerted municipal opposition. Uniform jackets were double-breasted with two rows of five buttons (almost certainly the standard BETCo pattern — see link) and lapels; the latter probably bore embroidered system initials, though these cannot be made out on surviving photographs. Caps were soft-topped with a glossy peak and bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge (almost certainly in brass), beneath which was an employee number.

Photographs taken following the acquisition of the horse tramway by the corporation (12th March 1905), clearly show that staff continued to wear uniforms, almost certainly those issued by the BETCo; whilst this would on the face of it seem a little odd, there is a possibility that the BETCo continued to operate the horsecars under lease until the closure of the system barely 4 months later. Photos taken during this time show drivers and conductors wearing small round licences — these were almost certainly the same enamel licences issued by the corporation to its electric car staff.

The Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways Company certainly employed the services of an inspector, though whether he wore a uniform or not is unknown, as photographs appear not to have survived.

For a photographic history of the Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramway, see 'Great Yarmouth Tramways' by David Mackley; Middleton Press (2003).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram circa 1880
A busy and fairly early scene taken outside the tram depot at Feathers Plain, Gorleston — photo undated, but from the style of the hats, probably taken in the 1880s. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram circa 1880
A blow-up of the above photo showing the individuals immediately in front and to the right-hand side of the central tram. It is unclear who is and is not a tramway company employee, but what is clear, is that all are wearing informal attire, suggesting that uniforms were not worn.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram circa 1900
An unidentified Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram stands at Feathers Plain in Gorleston — photo undated, but almost certainly taken around the turn of the century. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is clearly wearing informal attire, including the horse-tram driver's favoured headgear, the bowler hat.

Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who has a large oval licence dangling from his cash bag, but who is otherwise informally attired.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram at Halfway House 1905
Driver and conductor pose for the camera at Halfway House — photo undated, but very probably taken in the last couple of months of horse operation (June/July 1905) after the corporation had bought the company out. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways horse tram crew 1905
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, both of whom are wearing uniforms with small round licences. The cap badge is probably a British Electric Traction 'Magnet & Wheel' issue, as it would seem that crews continued to wear BETCo uniforms right up until closure.

Great Yarmouth Tramways Licence No 52
Great Yarmouth Corporation Tramways licence — black and white enamel. These were probably issued to staff following the corporation take-over. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.

J Thurston Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways employee
A copy of a press cutting of Y & GTCo Employee No 6 (J Thurston), presumably taken between 1900 and 1905. Although of poor quality, it nevertheless clearly shows that staff working the horse tram services wore caps bearing the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' device. Photo courtesy of the David Mackley Collection.

Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge of the type worn by Yarmouth and Gorleston Tramways in the last years five years or so of its existence — brass.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram 1905
Another photo of what is probably the same horsecar depicted in the Halfway House shot above, but one which is known to have been taken in June 1905 (at Feathers Plain), so definitely during the months of corporation ownership. All the tramway staff are wearing what would appear to be BETCo uniforms. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Yarmouth and Gorleston horse tram and crew
A shot taken in the last week or so of operation (July 1905), once again at Feathers Plain.