Birmingham Central Tramways

The Birmingham Central Tramways Company operated horse, steam, battery and cable-hauled tramway services during it's decade long existence, finally being taken-over by the City of Birmingham Tramways Company in 1896.

Although photographs showing staff of the horse, battery and cable operations are rare, by analogy with those taken following the CofBTCo take-over (see link), it seems more than likely that they wore informal attire.

Photographs of the steam-hauled services have fortunately survived in reasonable numbers, so it is possible to state with some degree of confidence what the staff working them wore. In common with the majority of UK steam-operated tramways, BCT steam tram drivers wore very similar attire to their railway counterparts, namely, heavy cotton trousers and jackets, often light in colour, along with greaseproof caps or soft-topped, kepi-style caps. No badges or insignia were worn on either the jackets or the caps. Conductors on the other hand appear to have worn a variety of jackets, suggesting that they were self-purchased rather than company issued; a variety of headgear was worn, predominantly bowler hats and soft-topped, kepi-style caps, once again suggesting that this was the preserve of the individual rather than the company. No badges were worn on either the jackets or the caps/hats.

Conductors on all services (horse, steam, and cable) wore round municipal licences, very probably of the pattern depicted below. Photographs suggest that drivers operating the horse and cable trams also wore licences, but that their steam counterparts did not.

Details of inspectors' uniforms remain unknown.


Steam tram drivers and conductors
Birmingham Central Tramways Steam Tram No 57
Two conductors and a driver pose for the camera with Falcon-built Steam Tram No 57 (of 1884) on a Route C working (probably the Coventry Rd route to Sparkbrook) - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1880s (No 57 was obtained second hand from Hartlepool in 1886). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Birmingham Central Tramways steam tram crew
Blow-up of the above photo, showing the conductor and driver. The conductor is not wearing a uniform, the only insignia being a licence, possibly the same pattern as that shown below.

Birmingham Corporation Tramways conductor licence
Birmingham municipal conductor's licence - brass, almost certainly the same pattern as that issued to Birminham Central tram conductors in the horse and steam tram eras.

Birmingham Corporation tram conductor licence
Birmingham municipal licence - brass. This oval type of licence may well have been used at some point, though photographic evidence is currently lacking. Author's Collection.

Birmingham Central Tramways Steam Tram No 57
Another photograph of No 57 working the Sparkbrook route - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1880s or early 1890s. All present are in informal attire, with the possible exception of the figure on the left ,who may be wearing some form of collar insignia. Author's collection.

Birmingham Central Tramways Steam Tram No 26
Driver and fitters working on Steam Tram No 26 - photo dated 1892. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Cable tram drivers and conductors
Birmingham Central Tramways Company cable tram
BCTCo driver aboard Cable Tram No 79 with a service for New Inns - photo dated 1896. Although he is clearly wearing a municipal licence, the rest of his uniform is completely devoid of insginia. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Birmingham tram drivers licence
Birmingham municipal driver's licence (No 122) - brass. This is almost certainly the pattern worn by the BCT's horse, battery and cable-tram drivers. Author's collection.