Blackpool Corporation Tramways
Staff working the conduit system during the period it was operated by the Blackpool Electric Tramways Company (1885 to 1892), appear to have worn a uniform of sorts, i.e. jacket, trousers, shirt and tie, which, judging by the consistency in the style, was probably issued by the company; it was however completely plain, i.e. without badges or marked buttons. Headgear took the form of a soft-topped peaked cap, again worn without a badge of any kind. Due to persistent and ultimately intractable problems with the conduit system, electric services were supplemented - and often replaced - by horse traction; it is unclear what attire was worn by staff working these services, though in all likelihood it was the same as that worn by crews working the conduit services.
At some point following the corporation takeover of 1892, uniforms were issued to staff, though photographic evidence would suggest that it was not until the late 1890s. However, by the turn of the century, tramcar staff were certainly being issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two waist-level pockets (with flap closures), epaulettes and lapels; the latter do not appear to have carried any badges, though in all likelihood the epaulettes did. The whole ensemble, including the trousers and the cap were heavily piped. Caps were in the military style with a tensioned crown (top), and bore a large circular cap badge consisting of the 'unofficial' municipal arms, within a garter containing the full system title: 'Blackpool Corporation Tramways' (see below). It is likely that this cap badge continued in use right through to the mid-to-late Edwardian area, even though the arms it used were superseded by new ones following a grant from the Colleage of Heralds in 1899.
In the mid-to-late Edwardian era, the jacket was changed to a new style, still single-breasted with five buttons, but with two breast pockets (with button closures), and upright collars; the latter initially bore an employee number (in individual nickel numerals) on the bearer's left-hand side, and system initials - 'BCT' in individual nickel letters - on the right-hand side. The jackets also had epaulettes that were closed with a button fastening, and which bore a small, municipal arms badge; once again everything was heavily piped. The employee number on the collars appears to have been quickly dispensed with, its place being taken by system initials.
Caps were still in the military style - and piped - but now bore a small municipal shield badge (with the new arms), which was worn above standard, script-lettering grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - the latter despite conductors always being called 'Guards' in Blackpool. The collar initials were eventually superseded by the small municipal shield badge, certainly by the 1920s.
Uniform jackets were changed once again, possibly in the 1940s/50s, to a more modern single-breasted design with lapels, though exactly when these were introduced is unknown.
Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons, high fold-over collars and epaulettes; the latter bore 'B C T' initials on each side, together with the standard municipal 'coat of arms' badge.
Blackpool also appears to have made use of parcelsboys - uniforms were identical to conductors and motormen, but with a script-lettering grade badge - 'Parcelsboy'.
Tramcar staff were also issued with enamel licences, which had the full system title around the outer edge and a number in the centre. These licences exist in three varieties: blue, deep red and white, and apparently represented the three depots, Rigby Rd, Marton and Bispam, though which colour related to which depot is unclear (thanks to Stephen Howarth for this information). The licences were initially worn suspended from a button on the jacket specifically for this purpose, but later on they were almost always worn suspended from one of the jacket epaulette buttons. In later years, probably after 31st July 1980 when PSV badges ceased to be issued to bus staff, Blackpool Transport introduced its own green and white plastic number badges, for both bus and tram staff (with thanks to Stephen Howarth for this information).
Photographs of inspectors have yet to surface, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms they wore.
In common with the vast majority of UK tramways, Blackpool employed female staff during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. The odd photograph has survived which shows them wearing what appear to be men's caps and overcoats, suggesting that ladies' uniforms were either initially unavailable or were in short supply. Female staff were however eventually issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with four buttons, a waist belt (with two buttons), lapels and epaulettes (with button closures). The usual municipal shield badges were worn on the upper lapels, and in all likelihood, an employee number on the epaulettes. Headgear comprised a baggy cap with glossy peak, which bore the usual municipal shield badge, but above system initials - 'B C T' - in individual nickel letters, rather than the grade badges worn by their male colleagues.
Motormen and conductors
Conduit Tramcar No 10 stands at the approach to Princess St car shed on the 17th December 1891, i.e. in Blackpool Electric Tramways Company days. All four individuals appear to be tramway staff, as they are all wearing the same style of soft-topped cap. Author's collection.
A blow-up of the above photograph showing the individual leaning on the bulkhead. He is wearing a uniform of sorts - similar to the other men in the photo - though one seemingly devoid of insignia.
A rather youthful-looking conductor stands in front of Conduit Car No 7 - photo purportedly taken in 1897, i.e. under corporation ownership. The uniform appears to be very similar, if not identical to that in the previous photo, with no sign of badges, save for what appears to be a licence. Author's collection.
The crew of a very new looking Tramcar No 58 (a 'dreadnought) captured for posterity with their charge on the promenade - photo undated, but given the good condition of the tram, probably taken not too long after its delivery in 1902. Author's collection.
A blow-up of the photo above showing the crew in more detail. The conductor's uniform jacket is single-breasted with lapels, and heavily piped, whilst his cap bears a large round cap badge, almost certainly that depicted below.
BCT cap badge, probably used from the late 1890s through to the mid-to-late Edwardian era - nickel. Although this badge actually uses an unofficial coat of arms that was superseded in June 1899, its use must have continued for some considerable time after this, as numerous examples have survived, with most showing fairly heavy wear. Author's collection.
Probable BCT epaulette badge, used from the late 1890s and through to the mid-to-late Edwardian era - nickel. Author's collection.
Studio portrait (taken at the Promenade Studios) of a Blackpool conductor - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian.
A blow-up of the above photo revealing the subject to be Employee No 213, bearer of Licence No 15.
Standard 'off-the-shelf' script-lettering cap badges of the type worn by Blackpool staff from the mid-to-late Edwardian era onwards - nickel.
BCT cap badges, probably introduced in the mid-to-late late Edwardian era, and subsequently also used on uniform collars and lapels - nickel and gilded brass.
Elaborate BCT cap badge with the new Blackpool coat of arms (granted by the College of Heralds in June 1899). Examples of this badge are very rare, strongly suggesting that it is a pattern book example made for consideration by the Corporation, with the latter ultimately deciding to issue the simplifed pattern of badge above. The photographic record certainly bears adequate testimony to the ubiquitous use of the simplified badge from the late Edwardian era onwards. With thanks to Darren Lodge.
The crew of Tramcar No 65 on North Shore, along with two very junior members of staff - photo undated, but given the pristine condition of the tram, probably taken in, or shortly after, 1911, when this vehicle was built.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. The collars bear 'BCT' initials on both sides, in contrast to the studio portrait above in which the subject clearly has an employee number on his left-hand collar. Both the collars and the trousers are piped.
Another blow-up of the photo of No 65 above showing one of the two extremely youthful looking lads. His cap badge appears to say 'Parcelsboy'.
Motorman Joseph Edward Heywood Arnold - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. The subject previously worked for Glossop Tramways (he is described as a motorman and conductor in the 1911 census) and eventually moved to Barrow around 1913 when he would have been 40 years old. Thanks to Karen Burns - Joesph's great granddaughter - for the photo and the background information.
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform, including the licence, which is No 159. The top of the badge is obscured by the crown (top of the cap).
Motorman and conductor pose with a fully laden 'toastrack' tramcar - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s. The collar initials had by this time been replaced with the small municipal device badge, identical to that worn on the cap. Both men are wearing licences suspended from their epaulette buttons. With thanks to Daniel Smith.
Motorman at the controls of No 62 on a service to Squires Gate - photo dated July 1932. Author's collection.
Motorman poses for the camera on the frunning board of a toastrack tram - photo undated, but possibly taken in early the 1920s given the passengers' attire and the fact that the subject is wearing a medal ribbon. Author's collection.
Licence 706 - blue and white enamel. Author's collection.
Licence 187 - deep red and white enamel. Author's collection.
Licence 306 - white and black enamel. Author's collection.
Licence 122 - white and black enamel with black rim. Author's collection.
Motorman at the controls of an open-topped tram in 1963. He is clearly wearing a red and white PSV bus driver's badge, suggesting that he was also licenced to drive buses, though Blackpool may in fact have licensed all its staff irrespective of the fact that this was not a requirement of the PSV licensing laws. Photograph courtesy of the Tramway and Light Railway Society.
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 709 - photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1990s. Stephen Howarth Collection.
Blackpool Corporation Transport motorman's badge - probably issued after 31st July 1980. Author's Collection
Blackpool Corporation Transport conductor's badge - probably issued after 31st July 1980. Stephen Howarth Collection.
BCT inspector's cap badge, with the new Blackpool coat of arms (granted by the College of Heralds in June 1899) - gilt. It is unclear whether this badge was ever issued, as its counterpart for tramcar crews was almost certainly not used, the corporation instead favouring the simplified version without the garter and system title. With thanks to Talisman Auctions).
Possible later-era inspector's lapel badge - cloth.
A diminutive and rather cheeky looking Great War Blackpool conductress - photo undated, but probably taken within the first few months of women being employed, as she is clearly wearing a man's cap, and probably overcoat too.
A depot shot of a group of Great War female employees, at least some of whom appear to be motorwomen (judging by the gloves).
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the baggy peaked caps and 'B C T' initials. Both ladies appear to be wearing the standard Blackpool 'coat of arms' badges on their caps and upper lapels; the lady on the right also has a municipal licence hanging from her epaulette closure button.