Southport Tramways Company

Summary
The Southport Tramways Company operated horse tram services from 1873 through to 1901/2. Photographs of the earliest years of operation appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to state whether or not staff were issued with uniforms; however, what is clear, is that they were wearing uniforms by the mid 1890s. Conductors wore single-breasted jackets with five buttons and upright collars; the latter may have carried insignia of some kind, though this cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs. Drivers were also issued with uniforms - a somewhat unusual policy for a horsecar system - comprising double breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and lapels, the latter appearing to carry some kind of badge, possibly embroidered. Conductors and drivers both wore kepi-style caps with a glossy peak and a small cap badge of unknown pattern.

In 1899, the company became a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. Photographs clearly show that following electrification, staff were issued with the familiar and largely regulation BET uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BET systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern.

The precise chronology of the uniforms is currently unclear, though it is likely that the initial issues were double-breasted, with two rows of four buttons, three pockets at waist level, and lapels; the latter probably carried individual letters on both sides (either 'S T C' or ’S T Co’ - almost certainly embroidered), the overall effect being almost naval in appearance. Caps were initially in a flatter, soft-topped railway style with a glossy peak, and carried a standard brass BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below), probably worn above an employee number (brass numerals).

At some point in the late Edwardian era, the uniforms were changed to single-breasted jackets with five buttons and upright collars; by analogy with other BET systems, the latter probably carried brass system initials on the right-hand side (probably 'STC' or 'STCo'), and an employee number on the left-hand side, again in brass. At the same time, the caps were changed to an upright military style, with the badge usually worn without an employee number.

Staff were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with high, fold-over collars; it is unclear if the latter carried any insignia.

Photographs of inspectors, or female staff (assuming they were employed during the Great War), have yet to surface, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms they wore.

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Southport Tramways Company tram and crew
Conductor and driver with Horsecar No 18, probably taken at the terminus outside the gates to the Botanic Gardens - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. The conductor is wearing a single-breasted tunic whilst the driver's is double-breasted; both men are wearing kepi-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


Southport Tramways Company horse tram and crew
Another photograph taken outside the Botanic Gardens terminus, this time with Horsecar No 22 - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


Southport Tramways Company horse tram and crew
Another shot of Horsecar No 18, this time on Lord St; photo undated, but probably turn of the century. The driver appears to have swapped his kepi-style cap for a straw boater. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


Motormen and conductors
Southport Tramways Company electric tram and crew
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 4; photo undated, but probably taken between 1907 and the start of the Great War. The small cap badges are the standard British Electric Traction Company's 'Magnet & Wheel' variety. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


British Electric Traction Company badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company Limited ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge.