Bristol Tramways (Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company Limited)
Photographs taken in the Bristol Tramways Company era (1875-1887) are rare, however, those that have survived suggest that drivers wore informal but smart attire, along with the ubiquitous bowler hat; the situation with conductors is less clear, though surviving photographs would suggest that they too also wore informal attire. The uniform policy probably remained unchanged following the company's amalgamation with the Bristol Carriage Company in 1887, though once again, surviving photographs are hardly conclusive, at least with respect to conductors. A metal fretwork badge of 'BTTCL' initials has however survived (see below), which may well indicate that uniforms were introduced at some point.
The Bristol Tramways Company also operated a small number of steam trams, albeit for only a very short period (1880-1881) before abandoning this form of traction altogether. Drivers wore railway footplate-like attire and cloth caps, which in common with the vast majority of UK steam tramway operators, did not bear badges of any kind. It is currently unclear what uniforms, if any, were worn by the conductors working these services.
Early photos from the electric era clearly show that smart uniforms were introduced, both in single- and double-breasted form; it seems likely that one was intended for motormen and the other for conductors, though subsequent photos do not support a strict delineation. Both styles had three hip/waist-level pockets and collars; the latter bore script-lettering system initials badges on both sides, probably embroidered cloth, though photographic evidence is inconclusive and the earliest pattern may well have been brass. Caps were in the kepi style and bore a large, broadly oval badge, which appears to have been embroidered, though it may have been in metal fretwork on a cloth backing.
At some point in the early Edwardian era, a change was made to double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (see link), narrowing narrowed from top to bottom, and high, fold-over collars. The latter continued to carry an elaborate embroidered script-lettering badge - ‘BT&CCL’ - on each side. The tunics were embellished with epaulettes edged in a light-coloured piping; these were fastened at the neck end with a small button. The caps were almost certainly changed at the same time to a military style with a tensioned crown (top), piped, and with a glossy peak; these carried a new oval cap badge with ‘BT&CCL’ initials above the employee’s grade, either ‘Conductor’ or ‘Driver’.
In later years (probably the early 1920s), the jackets were changed to a more modern double-breasted style with two rows of three buttons, lapels and piped epaulettes; the oval cloth cap badge and the embroidered collar badges appear to have been superseded - probably at the same time - by a nickel ‘BT&CCL’ script-lettering badge (see below).
Tramcar staff, particularly motormen, frequently wore double-breasted overcoats with piped lapels; the latter carried BTCCL script lettering badges. When on duty, tramcar crews were required to wear municipal licences; these were round with black letters/numbers on a white enamel background, and bore an employee number (in the centre), above which appeared the words 'Bristol Corporation', and below, the bearer's grade, e.g. 'Conductor'.
Female staff, who were employed as conductresses from 1st January 1917 to replace men lost to teh armed services, were issued with long, tailored, double-breasted coats with two rows of buttons that narrowed in the middle. The coat had piped epaulettes and lapels, the upper part of the which (i.e. the collars) bore curved, embroidered cloth badges: 'Conductor' on the bearer's left-hand side and 'BT&CCL' on the right, both within a box. Headgear took the form of a baggy cloth cap (with a glossy peak), which bore a round, embroidered cloth badge, comprising a monogram of the system initials, 'BT&CCL', within a circle. Wide-brimmed felt bonnets were also worn, and these bore the same round cloth cap badge as the caps; it is unknown whether one of these hats superseded the other, or whether one was winter issue and the other for summer use. The ladies were also issued with long, tailored, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of six buttons, high, fold-over collars, epaulettes and cuff straps, both piped; the collars bore the same curved cloth badges as the jackets.
In the horse-tram era, inspectors appear to have worn double-breasted jackets with two rows of three or four buttons and lapels, the upper part of which (the collars) bore a badge of some description; the jacket cuffs were embellished with braid. Caps were in the kepi style and carried a large oval cap badge, possibly embroidered cloth. Inspectors were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of fours buttons and lapels; the collars bore badges of some description. Close-up photographs of inspectors during the electric era have proven difficult to find; however, a studio portrait taken shortly after the tramway's closure (see below), suggests that in later years, inspectors wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of three buttons and lapels, the collars of which carried the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown, and these bore an hat band, as well as a large oval, cloth cap badge embroidered with the system initials in block letters - 'BTCCL' - above the grade - 'Inspector'.
For a history of Bristol's tramway system, see 'Bristol's Trams Remembered' by John B Appleby; published by the author (1969).
Horse tram drivers and conductors
An unidentified Bristol Tramways Company horse tram at Perry Rd curve on the inaugural run on 9th August 1875. Although it is claimed that drivers and conductors wore grey uniforms trimmed with scarlet, the driver here appears to be in informal attire. It is unclear whether any of the other figures, none of whom appears to be wearing a uniform, is the conductor. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Driver and inspector, presumably with a tram in the 119-124 series (built in 1896), working the Redland-Tramways Centre route - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1890s. The conductor is standing on the rear platform. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is clearly wearing smart but informal attire.
Two passing horse trams, with conductor on the left one (No 58) and a driver on the right-hand one. The individual standing in the road is more than likely an inspector. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the inspector and the rather youthful-looking conductor; the latter appears to be in informal attire, though this is far from clear.
Possible BT&CCL collar badge from the pre-electric or early electric eras - gilded brass.
Steam tram drivers and conductors
Bristol Tramways Company Steam Tram No 6 - 'Loughborough' - on hire from the manufacturer (Hughes), captured for posterity in either 1880 or 1881. The driver is wearing typical workman-like footplate attire, without badges or licences. Author's collection.
Motormen and conductors
Tramcar No 92 and a crowd of staff and worthies captured on what may well be the opening day of electric services on 14th October 1895. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
A blow-up of the above photo showing three of the tramwaymen, all in smart kepis and piped trousers, two in single-breasted jackets and one in a double-breasted jacket.
Conductor William Cross (born 1879) poses for the cameraman with an unidentified tramcar in what may possibly be Gloucester Road, outside the Horfield Road tram depot - photo undated, but very probably taken around the turn of the century given that the tramcar appears to belong to one of the batches delivered in 1900/1901 and which still has its curtains (these did not last long). Bill Cross later became a motorman and ultimately, an omnibus driver.
A brand-new Tramcar No 199 (and crew) pictured at Hanham in 1900/1901. The motorman appears to be wearing an informal jacket. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
A pristine-condition Tramcar No 197 and crew, again pictured in 1900/1901. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor.
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 191 - photo undated, but probably taken in 1901/2. The conductor in this photo is wearing a single rather than a double-breasted jacket. Neither man is wearing a municipal licence, suggesting that that they had yet to be introduced. Author's collection.
Tramcar No 73 with crew - photo undated, but probably taken shortly after route indicator boxes were fitted in 1902. The motorman's municipal licence is clearly in evidence.
Conductor (J D Hare of Bedminster) and motorman pose for the camera with what appears to be a fairly new Tramcar No 217. Although undated, the vehicle still has its original McGuire Columbian truck (these were quickly replaced), so it was probably taken in the early-to-mid-Edwardian era. Both men are wearing a new style of uniform (double-breasted 'lancer style') with military-style caps. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
Conductor Knight and Motorman Causey in new double-breasted, 'lancer style' tunics - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-Edwardian era.
A superb studio portrait of a BT&CCoLtd motorman in double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunic - photo undated, but probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Author's collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the uniform insignia. The system initials on the collar are embroidered, as is the cloth cap badge, which again bears the company initials, along with the bearer's grade. Magnification shows the buttons to be the standard BT&CCoLtd script-lettering initials pattern (see link).
Bristol conductor No 13 - photo undated, but probably taken around the time of the Great War. The licence states 'Bristol Corporation, 13, Licensed Conductor'. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.
An unidentified BT&CCLtd conductor - photo undated, but possibly taken after the Great War. Author's collection.
Bristol Tramways staff posing with Tramcar No 172 on Service 6 at the Filton terminus - photo undated, but probably taken just after the Great War given the attire of the passengers (not shown) and the condition of the tramcar. The man at the controls is the motorman, whilst his conductor stands on the platform steps (2nd left); the figure on the staircase is probably a points boy. The other two individuals are almost certainly a bus driver (1st left) and a bus conductor (in the white coat), probably for the connecting service to Thornbury (thanks to Peter Cook for this information). Note the small licences worn by the conductor (2nd left) and the motorman (4th left), as well as the chevrons adorning the sleeve of the latter. Author's collection.
Conductor and motorman aboard Tramcar No 88 in Zetland Road - photo dated 1924. The cloth cap badge and embroidered collar badges have now been replaced with a single design of metal script-lettering cap badge, 'BT&CCL'.
Collar and cap badge - nickel. These badges appear to have first been used a cap badges by non-tramway employees, but subsequently superseded the cloth cap badges and embroidered collar badges originally worn by motormen and conductors.
A group of tramcar staff taken in the 1930s. Note that all of them are wearing modern double-breasted jackets, as well as white rain covers on their caps, the latter indicating that it was summer. With thanks to Paul Townsend.
A blow-up of the 120-series horse tram photo above, showing an individual who is almost certainly an inspector. His tall kepi-style cap bears a large oval cap badge - probably embroidered - and the collars of his overcoat also bear badges of some kind.
Photo showing an inspector (right) at Horfield depot - taken by W A Camwell, very probably in 1938. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.
Inspector Gilbert Edwin Charles Pitt MM, who started work on the trams in Bath, eventually retiring as an inspector on the buses, also in Bath (by that time operated by the BT&CCLtd). Although the photograph was taken shortly after the Second World War, and therefore post-dates the demise of the trams, the uniform is probably unchanged from that worn by inspectors during the latter decades of tram operation in Bristol. With thanks to the subject's Grandson, Tony Pitt.
A poor quality photograph, but one which shows a Great War Bristol Tramways conductress aboard a tramcar, No 157, on the Staple Hill/ Zetland Rd route. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
A studio portrait of two BT&CCoLtd conductresses taken at Gale's Studios Ltd - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Author's collection.
A blow-up of the above photo, showing the lady on the left. Her cap badge is embroidered cloth and comprises a monogram of the system initials, 'BT&CCL'. The collar badges are also embroidered cloth: 'Conductor' on her left-hand side and 'BT&CCL' on her right-hand side.
Studio portrait of a Great War Bristol Tramways conductress in long, tailored greatcoat. Author's collection.
Blow-up of the above photo showing details of the licence, collar badges and hat, which is a felt bonnet rather than the cap with glossy peak seen in the other photos.
Another studio portrait of a Bristol conductress, this time a lady called 'Millie - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Photo by Hamilton of Staple Hill, Bristol; author's collection.
Another damaged photo, this time showing a rather 'smiley' conductress aboard Tramcar No 140 - photo undated, but very probably taken during the Great War. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.