Brighton Corporation Tramways

Summary
The early uniforms (circa 1901 to the mid-1920s) were single-breasted with a row of five buttons, presumably brass (see link), a breast pocket and upright collars; the latter do not appear to have borne any insignia. Caps were in the upright military style and carried a brass cap badge comprising the full system title - 'Brighton Corporation Tramways' - in a scroll inlaid with deep red enamel, below which was the municipal shield. This badge was worn above a brass, script-lettering grade badge - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - which in the early years was underlined, something of a rarity for a British tramway system. At some point, the underlining was dropped, though it is not clear when. Motormen and conductors also wore a brass licence, which comprised the municipal shield above an employee number (in nickel) and the grade ('Motorman' or 'Conductor'), all surrounded by the full system title; these were backed in leather and were hung from a button on the tunic or overcoat.

Tramcar staff were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried any badges.

Although uniform jackets remained unchanged right through to the mid 1920s, there were changes to both the cap badges and the licences. The round municipal licences appear to have been superseded by a new elaborate design circa 1920, which though still brass, now carried the full municipal arms along with a nickel employee number preceded by either an 'M' or a 'C'. However, rather than hanging from a leather strap like the original licence, the new one incorporated a full leather back piece. A change was also made to the main cap badge, probably sometime in the mid-to-late 1920s, so that it now incorporated a brass plate supported by feathers, which bore either a nickel ‘M’ (for ‘Motorman’) or ‘C’ (for ‘Conductor’), along with an employee number (see below). This seems to have been intended to replace the municipal licences, as these no longer appear on photographs taken after this date.

New jackets were introduced in the 1920s, which though still single-breasted, now had lapels rather than upright collars, three waist-level pockets, an open breast pocket and epaulettes; it is unclear whether the latter carried any badges. A further change was made to the jackets in the 1930s, to a double-breasted design with two rows of four buttons, lapels and epaulettes; once again, it is unclear whether the jackets bore any insignia. Cap badges were now issued in chrome, which although identical to their predecessors in form, were now inlaid with deep blue enamel, with the grade and employee numbers in brass.

Photographs of inspectors are rare, but those that do survive (from the latter years of the tramway) suggest that they wore single-breasted tunics with lapels. A cap badge has survived (see below), which is very similar to the deep red enamel cap badges issued to tramcar staff, but with 'Inspector' in a ribbon beneath the municipal shield (see below). It is possible that this was subsequently issued in chrome (during the 1930s), but if so, no examples are known. Perhaps uniquely amongst UK tramway systems, Brighton issued inspectors with licences. Examples have survived from the 1901-1920s period, which are identical to those worn by conductors and motormen (see below), save for the grade - 'Inspector'.

It seems highly likely that Brighton, in common with many tramways during the Great War, employed female staff to replace men lost to the armed services. Photographs have however yet to surface, so it is currently unclear what uniforms they wore.

Images

Motormen and conductors
Brighton Corporation Tramways staff photo
A group of conductors and two motormen (second and third from left, front row), probably taken in the first decade of operation. Author's collection


Brighton Corporation Tramways motormen and conductor
A blow-up of the above photo, showing the two motormen and a conductor. All are wearing 'Brighton Corporation Tramways' cap badges, along with underlined script-lettering grade badges, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor'. All present are also wearing municipal licences.


Brighton Corporation Tramways cap badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass and deep red enamel. This badge was probably worn from the opening of the system through to the mid 1920s. Author's collection.


Brighton Corporation Tramways motorman badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways municipal licence
‘Motorman’ cap badge and licence issued to Harry Bailey, who worked for the tramway from 1901 to 1907. Reproduced with the kind permission of The Royal Pavilion Museums, Brighton and Hove. All enquiries regarding image printing, reproduction and licensing should be made to ‘objectimages@brighton-hove.gov.uk’.


Brighton Corporation Tramways band 1908
Brighton Corporation Tramways Band, Preston Park, 27th August, 1908. Author's collection.


Brighton Corporation Tramways band 1908
Blow-up of the above photo showing that all present are wearing a large script-lettering 'Tramways' cap badge.


Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor Walter George Dunkerton
A studio portrait of Conductor Walter George Dunkerton, taken in 1917 when he was only 14 years of age. It is unclear why he is not wearing a script-lettering grade badge. With thanks to his grand-daughter, Chris Banwell


Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor Sonny Cook
‘Conductor’ Sonny Cook in early-period uniform with later style licence, taken in the early to mid-1920s. His grade badge is, in contrast to earlier years, not underlined. With thanks to his nephew, Eric Cook.


Brighton Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering cap badges of the type used by Brighton - brass. Early badges were underlined, but later photos indicate that a change was made to badges without underlining.


Brighton Corporation Tramways municipal licence
Municipal licence - probably worn from the early to the late 1920s. Source unknown.


Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor Sonny Cook
‘Conductor’ Sonny Cook with later-period uniform, taken in the late 1920s/ early 1930s. The new cap badge incorporated the employee number and grade letter, in this case a 'C' for conductor. With thanks to his nephew, Eric Cook


Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor's cap badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor's cap badge (mid 1920s to 1930s) - brass and deep red enamel. Author's collection.


Brighton Corporation Tramways crew
A poor quality photograph, but one which does show the double-breasted uniforms worn during the closing years of the tramway in the 1930s, by which time buttons and cap badges would have been chrome rather than brass. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


Brighton Corporation Tramways motorman
Motorman poses for the camera with Tramcar No 49 - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1930s. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Brighton Corporation Tramways motorman's cap badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways motormen's cap badge (1930s) - chrome and deep blue enamel. Author's collection.


Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor's cap badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways conductor's cap badge (1930s) - chrome and deep blue enamel. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum).

Senior staff
Brighton Corporation Tramways inspector licence
‘Inspector’ licence No 7 - brass with nickel number. Probably worn from 1901 through to the 1920s.


Brighton Corporation Tramways inspector
Another rather poor quality photograph, but one which shows an inspector (right) - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


Brighton Corporation Tramways Inspector's cap badge
Brighton Corporation Tramways inspector's cap badge (mid 1920s to 1930s) - brass and deep red enamel. Author's collection.