Bury Corporation Tramways

Summary
Photographs of Bury Corporation Tramways staff are surprisingly rare, much more so than those of its predecessor, the Bury, Rochdale and Oldham Steam Tramways Company. Surviving photographs do however show that for the inauguration of electric services (in 1903), both motormen and conductors were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets (with buttons closures) upright collars and epaulettes; the latter carried a small brass municipal arms badge on each side. The collars carried an employee number on the left-hand side, and system initials - 'B C T' - on the right-hand side; these were embroidered at first, and in script-lettering, but were quickly superseded by brass initials badges (in individual letters and numerals).

Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and carried an elaborate brass cap badge comprising the Bury municipal arms and motto, all within a wreath, with the full system title - 'Bury Corporation Tramways' - in a ribbon beneath.

A photograph from the 1920s shows a motorman wearing a double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunic with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars, but without epaulettes. It is unclear when these tunics were introduced, nor whether they were used exclusively by motormen.

By the 1940s, tramcar staff were wearing a more modern style of double-breasted jacket with two rows of four buttons, lapels and epaulettes. Photographs suggest that the epaulettes bore the standard Bury municipal device badge, though a publicity short has survived (see below) which also shows 'B C T' system initials being worn. It is likely that the badges and buttons had been changed from brass to nickel by this time, as several examples of marked, nickel 'Tramway' cap badges have survived. It is also possible that at the very end of services, a one-piece, chrome 'BCT' badge was worn; however, this is far from certain, and they may in fact date from a period after the demise of the tramway.

Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; it is unclear whether these garments bore badges of any kind.

Photographs of inspectors are yet to come to light, so it is not currently possible to say what uniforms they wore.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, Bury employed female staff during the Great War - as conductresses, and possibly though not certainly, as motorwomen - to replace the men lost to the armed services. It is currently unclear what tunics/jackets these ladies wore, as the sole surviving photo (see below), shows them in double-breasted, 'lancer-style' greatcoats with two rows of buttons (narrowing from top to bottom), and with epaulettes (fastened with a button at the neck end) and upright collars. Both the collars and the epaulettes were left plain, i.e. they were devoid of badges. Headgear took the form of a bonnet, either felt or waterproofed, which bore the standard 'tramway' cap badge on a hat band.

Bury almost certainly employed female tramcar staff during the Second World War, however, photographs have yet to surface, so details of the uniforms they wore remain unknown.

Unfortunately, a history of Bury Corporation Tramways is not pubically available.

Images

Motormen and conductors
Bury Corporation Tramways conductor or motorman Edwardian
A rare studio portrait (by Venn & Payne of Bury) of a Bury Corporation Tramways employee - photo undated, but certainly early Edwardian (1903/4). Author's Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways tramway man cap badge
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap, collar and epaulette insignia. The collars, which are unusually tall, bear embroidered system initials, 'B C T' on the bearer's left-hand side (in elaborate script lettering) and an employee number on the right-hand side (not evident in this photo). The system initials are preceded by an unidentified character, which may simply have been an elaborate flourish.


Bury Corporation Tramways cap badge
Bury Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass. Author's Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways epaulette badge, nickel
Bury Corporation Tramways epaulette badge - nickel. These would almost certainly have been brass in the early years, but were at some point changed to nickel. Author's Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways tram conductor
Bury Corporation Tramways conductor - photo undated, but probably early Edwardian. Author's Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform and insignia.


Bury Corporation Tramways tram on first day service to Radcliffe in 1905
Tramcar No 17, captured on what is almost certainly the inaugural electric service to Radcliffe in 1905. With thanks to Bury Image Bank (see link); Image b04963 - copyright Bury Archive Services.


Bury Corporation Tramways tramcar No 17
A blow-up of the above photo showing the rather boyish-looking motorman and conductor in their single-breasted jackets. The former has metal 'B C T' initials on his right-hand collar, whilst the latter has an employee No - '4' - on his left-hand collar.


Bury Corporation Tramways collar badge
Bury Corporation Tramways collar initials - brass. Collar insignia appear to have been embroidered initially, but seemingly soon gave way to brass numerals and letters.


Bury Corporation Tramways Tram No 35 Three Arrows Pub
Tramcar No 35 captured for posterity outside the Three Arrows Public House, Bury and Bolton Rd, Radcliffe - photo undated, but probably taken in the years running up to the Great War. With thanks to John Holme of the Manchester Transport Museum Society.


Bury Corporation Tramways tram No 35
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman.


Bury Corporation Tramways Tram No 54 and motorman
Tramcar No 54 heading towards Radcliffe - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s (No 54 was withdrawn in 1932). Photo courtesy of Duncan Holden.


Bury Corporation Tramways Tram No 54 and motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is clearing wearing a double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunic.


Bury Corporation Tramways conductor and Tramcar No 8
The conductor of Bury Corporation Transport Tramcar No 8, about to turn the trolley pole, poses for the camera of A D Packer on 9th October 1948.


Bury Corproation Tramways Tram No 8 and crew
Motorman and conductor pose for the camera with Tramcar No 8, which has clearly seen much better days - photo undated, but possibly taken on the same day as the previous photo given that the tram and the conductor are the same. Note that the driver is wearing a round PSV badge, introduced in 1935, suggesting that he may also have been a bus driver. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways cap badge
Bury Corporation Tramways cap badge - nickel. These were probably introduced in the late 1920s or 1930s, though evidence for a precise date is currently lacking.


Bury Corporation Tramways conductor
A Bury Corporation Tramways/Transport conductor with what is probably a posed publicity shot - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1950s. The epaulette insignia comprise individual 'B C T' initials and a Bury municipal device badge. It is possible that the subject may be a bus conductor. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.



Probable post-tramway-era lapel badge - chrome


Female staff
Bury Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductresses
A rare portrait of a group of Bury Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses. Author's Collection.


Bury Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the conductresses. Both of them are wearing double-breasted, 'lancer-style' greatcoats, along with felt bonnets bearing a hat band with the standard 'tramways' cap badge.


Bury Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing one of the two ladies who are wearing a Bolton 'shield-shaped' licence. These licences were worn by conductresses who worked for Bolton Corporation Tramways (see link), and are presumably being worn by the two Bury ladies because they were working on the through service between Bury and Bolton via Breightmet.