Blackpool and Fleetwood Tram Road Company

History
The Blackpool to Fleetwood tramway, which commenced services on the 4th July 1898, was arguably Britain's first and only inter-urban electric tramway; it was owned and operated by the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tram Road Company, whose title appears to have been rather fluid, subtlety varying between documents, tramcar liveries and uniforms! The company had somewhat of an 'on/off' relationship with the municipal authorities at either end of the line, though it did manage to reach agreement with Blackpool Corporation to operate that authority's newly built Talbot Road Station to Gynn Square line, which it did from the 29th September 1898. The company eventually decided to sell to Blackpool Corporation, which formally took over on the 1st January 1920.

Uniforms
Despite the company operating an intensive service for the best part of 22 years, one heavily used by tourists, good quality photographs of staff are rare; the few that have survived however, clearly show that motormen and conductors wore single-breasted jackets with five silver plated buttons (see link), two slit waist pockets and upright collars. The bearer's right-hand collar bore a grade badge, in all likelihood in embroidered script-lettering; Conductor was certainly used, but whether the designation for motormen was Driver or Motorman is currently unclear. The jackets and trousers were dark blue with red piping, and this general style does not appear to have changed at all until the take-over by Blackpool Corporation in 1920.

Caps were soft-topped with a glossy peak, and carried a large round nickel cap badge comprising the arms of both Blackpool and Fleetwood beneath a tramcar, all within a garter containing the full system title (see below). The badge was very similar in form to the early Blackpool Corporation Tramways cap badge (see link), as well as that of the City of Carlisle Electric Tramways Company (see link), with which the company shared a director. The company cap badge was sometimes supplemented with a metal, script-lettering grade badge (presumably nickel to match the buttons); Driver is known, though more often than not, the standard circular badge was the sole cap adornment. The caps were changed to a military style with a wide tensioned crown (top) around 1911/12.

Tramcar staff were required to wear licences whilst on duty, which were probably issued by Fleetwood; these were round and are thought to have been either brass or alloy rather than enamel. Many photos show tramcar crews wearing what would appear to be two licences, of different sizes (see below). This may have been because separate licences were issued by Fleetwood and Blackpool, the latter presumably issuing enamel licences similar to those issued to staff of Blackpool Corporation Tramways (see link) and the Blackpool, St Anne's and Lytham Tramways Company (see link).

Inspectors wore fairly typical tramway inspector garb, namely: single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body, and with upright collars; the latter almost certainly bore the grade — Inspector — in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in a tall kepi style with a glossy peak; they certainly bore the grade, probably in embroidered script lettering. The B&FTCo also employed the services of a more senior grade, probably a Chief Inspector. In the early years at least, this gentleman was issued with a long, single-breasted coat, edged in a finer material than the main body, that was also used to embellish the sleeves (probably with chevrons) and the front of the jacket (with bandsmen's frogs). The coat had upright collars that almost certainly bore the grade in embroidered script lettering, and possibly braided epaulettes, though the latter cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving photograph. The kepi-style cap was probably identical to those worn by inspectors, but presumably bearing the more senior grade.

In keeping with the inter-urban nature of the line, the B&FTCo also employed the services of Station Masters. These men appear to have been issued with the same uniforms as tramcar staff, though evidence for this is at best circumstantial.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, the B&FTCo employed the services of women during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, four pockets (with button closures), epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; the latter were devoid of insignia. Headgear took the form of a felt bonnet; this bore a standard, off-the-shelf, script-lettering grade badge — Conductor — seemingly worn without the usual circular company badge. The ladies were also provided with untailored, double-breasted greatcoats, presumably the same patterns as those worn by their male colleagues.

Further reading
For a comprehensive history of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad, see: 'Stopping Car to Fleetwood — the Story of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad' by Brian Turner; Heathfield Publishing (2018).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Tram No 14 and driver motorman
The motorman of B&FTCo Boxcar No 14 — brand-new and standing in North Albert Street, Fleetwood in 1898 — cuts a rather proprietorial figure whilst scrutinising the cameraman. He is wearing a single-breasted jacket with two slit waist pockets and upright collars. His cap is soft-topped with a glossy peak, and carries a large, circular B&FTCo cap badge, along with a script-lettering grade badge, Driver. It is unclear why he is not wearing a licence, as other staff in the larger shot (not shown here) are certainly wearing them. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tram Road Cap badge
Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad cap badge — nickel. The title has 'TRAM' and 'ROAD' as two separate words, whereas the tramcars had them as a single word. The company seems to have been particularly blasé in this regard, never really being sure itself which was the correct form. Author's Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad script-lettering cap badges
Standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges of the type used by B&FTCo — nickel. Author's Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramraod Tramway Tram No 23 driver and conductor
Boxcar No 23 stands at the Talbot Road terminus in Blackpool along with the crew and an inspector — although the photo is undated, it is thought to have been taken around 1900. The motorman (left) and conductor (right) are both wearing the standard cap badge, but seemingly without a grade badge. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.



A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, whose right-hand collar bears his grade — Conductor — possibly in embroidered script-lettering. He would appear to be wearing two round licences, but of different sizes. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackopool and Fleetwood Tramroad Talbot Rd 1900
Another shot taken at Talbot Rd around 1900 with a motorman (left), a Chief Inspector (centre) and a conductor (right). Once again, both crewmen are wearing two licences each (of different sizes). The motorman is wearing the standard cap badge, but without a grade badge. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramraod Tramway Tram No 24 driver and conductor
The crew of B&FTCo 'Rack' No 25 captured for posterity in Red Bank Road circa 1910. Both men are wearing single-breasted jackets, along with soft-topped caps bearing the standard B&FTCo cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad tram driver motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver who, as well as the standard cap badge, is wearing a script-lettering grade badge, Driver. He is once again wearing two licences of different sizes. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad tram No 14 and crew 1913
B&FTCo Boxcar No 14 stands at Cleveleys around 1913 with the crew (left), and an individual (right) who may be the Station Master. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Bl;ackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Tram driver and conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew. The conductor is probably a summer extra as he is wearing informal attire, namely: a self-purchased overcoat and a flat cap. The motorman on the other hand is wearing the standard uniform, but now with a military-style cap with a tensioned crown (top). Although he doesn't appear to be wearing the standard B&FTCo cap badge, this is probably obscured by the wide crown of the cap. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Senior staff
Blackpool and Fleetworrd Tramroad inspector circa 1900
A blow-up of the 1900 Talbot Road photo above showing the inspector. He is wearing fairly typical tramway inspector garb, comprising a single-breasted jacket with upright collars bearing his grade — Inspector — probably in embroidered script-lettering. His cap is a tall kepi, which also bears his grade — Inspector — again probably embroidered. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Chief Inspector
A blow-up of one of the Talbot Road photos above showing an individual who is in all probability a Chief Inspector or other senior grade such as a Traffic Superintendent. He is wearing a long, single-breasted coat embellished with bandsmen's frogs and braiding. The upright collars bear a badge of some description, presumably his grade, though this cannot unfortunately be made out on this photograph. His cap would appear to be a tall kepi, and whilst no badge is in evidence, it almost certainly bore his grade. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetworrd Tramroad Station Master
A blow-up of the 1913 photo above taken at Cleveleys, and showing an individual who may possibly be a Station Master. He is wearing a double-breasted greatcoat with plain buttons and high, fold-over collars, devoid of insignia except for his licences. His cap bears the standard cap badge and may also have a hat band of a lighter colour, though this may just be the chin strap reflecting the light (these were invariably worn above the peak). Once again he appears to be wearing two different licences, which may suggest that he is actually a motorman, as Station Masters would not ordinarily have been licenced. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Female staff
Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Great War tram conductresses
A very rare shot of B&FTCo Great War conductresses, taken at Bispham depot. At least three of the ladies, if not all of them, are wearing script-lettering grade badges — Conductor — but there is no sign of the standard B&FTCo circular cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.


Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Great War tram conductresses
A blow-up of the above photo showing the three conductresses on the right. All three are wearing licences on their cash-bag straps. Photo courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.