Bolton Corporation Tramways

Summary
Early photos suggest that crewmen were initially issued with long, single-breasted jackets with five buttons and upright collars; the latter probably bore an employee number on each side, though this is far from certain. These tunics seem somewhat old-fashioned for the period, and were fairly quickly superseded by double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (presumably nickel - see link), epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars; the latter bore employee numbers on each side, as well as a small municipal shield badge. Odd photos also exist which show motormen wearing double-breasted jackets, but with two parallel rows of very closely spaced buttons; however, these were probably only worn for a very short period, before also giving way to the standard double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics.

Caps were initially in the kepi-style with a stiff glossy peak and a large cap badge (of unknown pattern), though both were relatively quickly displaced by flatter, military-style caps with a glossy peak and a cap badge comprising the municipal shield and elephant surrounded by a wreath, all above a ribbon carrying the full system title, 'Bolton Corporation Tramways' (see below). This cap badge was substantially smaller than the badges worn on the earlier kepi-style caps.

The majority of photos indicate that tramcar staff usually wore long double-breasted great coats, presumably as a first-line of defence against the Bolton climate. These had two rows of five buttons, and initially, upright collars with an employee number in individual numerals (probably nickel) on both sides, as well as small shield badge (the municipal arms). Later however, the style appears to have been altered slightly to one with high, fold-over collars and epaulettes; the employee numbers (and possibly the shields) were no longer applied to the collars, but instead to the epaulettes.

Early photos indicate that motormen wore a large shield-shaped licence on their left breast, with conductors carrying a round licence; however, later photographs clearly show that both shapes covered both grades, so it is currently unclear what the differing shapes signified, as one type was not a chronological replacement of the other. These licences carried a number (different from the employee number), above which was the issuing authority ('BOLTON'), and below which, the bearer's grade ('DRIVER or 'CONDUCTOR'). The licences were however dispensed with around the end of the Great War, as they are absent from all photos taken thereafter.

In the last years of operation, a switch was made to a more modern double-breasted style of jacket (almost naval in appearance) with two rows of three buttons, lapels and epaulettes; these appear to have been predominantly worn by conductors, whilst motorman tended to stick with the older, doubtless warmer, 'lancer-style' tunics. The epaulettes carried employee numbers, along with the small municipal 'coat of arms' badge, which by this time served as a cap badge for bus crews (see below), and eventually tramcar crews too.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and upright collars; these latter probably carried the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. The jackets doubtless changed in style over the years, however, photographic evidence is only really available for the last few years, when inspectors wore double-breasted jackets with lapels, effectively identical to those worn by conductors. In the early years, inspectors wore the same elaborate municipal cap badges and kepi-style caps as tramcar staff, and presumably moved to military-style caps and smaller badges at the same time as tramcar staff. In later years, a much smaller badge was worn, possibly the Transport Department municipal arms badge.

Women were employed as conductresses during the Great War and the Second World War, to replace men lost to the armed services. In the Great War, these ladies were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, epaulettes and high folder-over collars; the epaulettes carried an employee number in nickel numerals, whilst the collars were unadorned. Hats took the form of bonnets, probably felt, which some ladies at least appear to have worn turned up at one side, Australian bush-hat style; it is unclear if a cap badge was worn. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a single photograph depicting female staff employed during the Second World War, of which there were a staggering 650, the maximum at any one time being 267 (see 'Bolton Corporation Transport' by H Postlethwaite; Venture Publications, 2007).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Bolton Corporation Tramways
A very early photo (1900) of Tramcar No 42, built for - and later delivered to - Stockport Corporation Tramways, but on loan to Bolton. The conductor, inspector and motorman are all wearing single-breasted tunics (seemingly without insignia) and kepi-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Bolton Corporation Tramways No 46 and crew
Conductor, motorman and inspector with Tramcar No 46 - photo undated, but probably taken in 1900 or shortly thereafter, as the tram is in open-topped condition. All present are wearing double-breasted great coats and kepi-style caps with a large, elaborate cap badge. Whilst the conductor is wearing a round licence, his motorman's is shield-shaped. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Bolton Corporation Tramways crew
Conductor (in long, calf-length jacket) and motorman, pose with an almost new tramcar of the 50-59 series, somewhere on the Bolton Rd - Manchester Rd section of the route to Farnworth - photo undated, but probably taken in 1901 or 1902. The motorman is wearing a distinctive double-breasted jacket with very closely spaced buttons. Note also the difference in licence shape. Photo courtesy of Ted Gray.


Bolton Corporation Tramways motorman
A rather poor quality but early photograph of a Bolton motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 46 - photo undated, though from the pristine condition of the tram (with top cover), probably taken in 1903 when No 46 was so fitted. The motorman is wearing a kepi-style cap with a large cap badge, as well as a shield-shaped licence on his breast. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Bolton Corporation Tramways
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 1 on a service for Tonge Moor - photo undated, but probably early Edwardian. Both men are wearing flatter, military-style caps with a new pattern of cap badge (shown below). The employee numbers, worn on both left and right collars are easily discerned. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Bolton Corporation Tramways tram conductor Edwardian
Studio portrait of a Bolton Corporation Tramways conductor (Employee No 262) - photo undated, but probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Author's collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramways tram conductor No 262
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap badge, collar insignia and municipal licence (Conductor 111). The employee and licence numbering system would appear to be unconnected.


Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge nickel
Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge, reputedly owned by George Jackson - nickel. This pattern of cap badge was probably introduced around 1903, and was eventually superseded by chrome, probably in the 1930s or 1940s. Author's collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge
Bolton Corporation Tramways collar and epaulette badge - nickel. Towards the end of tramway operations, these badges were frequently used in place of the larger cap badges. Author's Collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramways
Motorman and conductor pose aboard Tramcar No 12, again with a service for Tonge Moor - photo undated, but probably early to mid Edwardian from the style of dress. Whilst the motorman is wearing a shield-shaped licence, his conductor has a round one. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Bolton Corporation Tramways motorman
Bolton Corporation Tramways motorman - photo undated. but probably taken before the Great War The licence is 'BOLTON DRIVER 94', and his employee number is 103.


Bolton Corporation Tramways motorman and Cameron Highlanders machine gunner Great War
Bolton Corporation Tramways Employee No 128, along with his brother, who is wearing a Cameron Highlanders beret with a Machine Gun Corps cap badge - photo undated, but certainly taken during the Great War. The rear of the postcard says: "With best love & wishes from your affectionate brothers, H & P". Author's collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramwayman 128
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the collar insignia and the cap badge. The licence is difficult to make out, but the length of the wording is consistent with him being a motorman.


Bolton Corporation Tramways
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 97 on a service to Deane - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1930s. The badge on the epaulettes is the small, municipal shield badge depicted above (in nickel) and below (in chrome). Photographer, H B Priestley. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Bolton Corporation Tramways
Two photos of conductors taken in the last years of operation, showing the change to double-breasted jackets with lapels and epaulettes. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge chrome
Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge - chrome. This material was probably used from the late 1930s or 1940s onwards. With thanks to Darren Lodge.


Bolton Corporation Tramways conductors
A group of bus and tram conductors listen attentively to a group of inspectors (see photo below) on the 12th August 1938. The bus conductors are wearing a simple municipal 'coat of arms' cap badges, whereas the tramcar conductors still have the larger 'Tramways' cap badge. Both bus and tram conductors are wearing the simple shield badge on their epaulettes, along with their respective employee numbers. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Bolton Corporation Tramways cap badge
Bolton Corporation Tramways epaulette badge - chrome. Chrome was probably introduced in the late 1930s or 1940s, when its use became much more widespread. Author's Collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramways conductor 1938
Another blow-up from the same photo as the previous image, showing a 'tramways' conductor - his PSV badge is 'CC 1906'. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


North Western Traffic Area PSV badge CC 70699
North Western Traffic Area PSV badge No 70699.


Bolton Corporation Tramways
A member of the depot staff (dressed in old 'lancer-style' tunic) and conductor or motorman pose at the depot with Tramcar No 404 - photo undated, but almost certainly taken shortly before closure. Photographer W G Thomas. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Bolton Corporation Tramways motorman
A Bolton motorman at the controls of an unidentified tramcar - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1940s. Author's Collection.


Bolton Corporation Trmaways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo, which clearly shows that the cap badge is the same small municipal shield badge that was usually worn on the collars and epaulettes.


Senior staff
Bolton Corporation Tramways inspector
Inspector, from the shot of Tramcar No 46 above, probably dating to 1900. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Bolton Corporation Tramways Inspectors
Two Bolton Corporation Transport inspectors engaged in earnest discussion with a large group of bus and tram conductors (see photo above) on the 12th August 1938. Two of the inspectors have straw-topped caps. The simple, unmarked Bolton municipal 'coat of arms' cap badge is easily made out. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Bolton Corporation Tramways collar - cap badge, gilt
Possible Bolton Corporation Tramways inspector's cap badge - gilt. Author's collection.


Female staff
Bolton Corporation Tramways Great War Conductress
Bolton Corporation Tramways Great War conductress. Author's Collection.


Bolton Corporation Tramways Great War Conductress
Blow-up of the above photo, revealing the lady in question to be Employee No 99. The licence is BOLTON CONDUCTOR 129.