Brighton and Shoreham Tramways

Summary
The Brighton and Shoreham Tramways started life in 1884 as a steam-hauled operation, but quickly supplemented these services with horse trams. The former operated for approximately 9 years, initially under the ownership of the Brighton and District Tramways Company (1884 to 1889), and subsequently under its successor, the Brighton and Shoreham Tramways Company (from 1889).

Photographic evidence from the steam-hauled years (1884 to 1893) is extremely limited, so it is not possible to state with any certainty what staff wore, though the single surviving photograph (shown below) does suggest that, in common with the majority of UK steam-operated tramways, drivers probably wore very similar attire to their railway counterparts, such as heavy cotton trousers and jackets, along with greasetop or flat caps. It is unlikely that either the jackets or the caps bore any badges. Evidence for conductors is also limited, though if it is assumed that at least one of the eight individuals depicted on the photograph must be the conductor, then it seems likely that they wore informal attire.

Photographs of the first decade or so of horse operation appear not to have survived at all, the earliest known being from around the time of the British Electric Traction Company takeover (1897). The latter, over the course of its history, either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles, and its clear intention was to electrify the line, after which it would no doubt have imposed a standard uniform policy, as it did elsewhere. The electrification plans however came to naught, in large part due to the intransigence of Hove, so the BETCo was left to operate an antiquated horse-drawn system through to its eventual closure in 1913.

It would appear that the BETCo initially issued jackets and caps, seemingly without insignia, though evidence is once again sparse. Staff were however certainly issued with uniforms during the early Edwardian era, as a staff photo survives from 1905. These comprised single-breasted jackets with a row of five buttons, a left-breast pocket (with flap closure) and high fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried any insignia. Caps were military in style with an unusually wide, soft-topped crown (top); the cap probably bore an employee number, though there remains a possibility that it was the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge. The latter is however unlikely given that the BETCo generally only introduced the 'Magnet & Wheel' device following system electrification, probably because of its obvious electrical associations (a magnet and electrical flashes). As a whole, the uniforms were markedly different to those worn on other BETCo-owned systems, perhaps reflecting the fact that electrification had failed to materialise.

From 1907 onwards, the photographic record is particularly strong, and shows that the company had abandoned issuing uniforms altogether, being content for staff to wear informal but smart attire. No insignia of any kind appears to have been worn, including licences.

It is unclear what uniforms, if any, were worn by inspectors prior to the BETCo take-over. One photo does however exist (see below) of an inspector in BETCo days (1905); this shows that standard BETCo uniform practice was followed, namely, a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or more likely an hook and eye affair), four slit pockets, with the pockets and jackets edged in a finer material than the main body, and with upright collars; the latter carried the designation Inspector in embroidered script lettering. The cap was in a military-style with a tensioned crown (top), and appears to have borne the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, with the grade - Inspector - embroidered in script lettering on a hat band below.

For further reading on the Brighton and Shoreham Tramways, see: 'A History of the British Steam Tram, Volume 2' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon Publishing (2008).

Images

Steam drivers and conductors
Brighton and District Tramways steam tram No 2
A rather poor quality photograph, but the only one known to have survived depicting a Brighton and District Tramways Company steam tram (Wilkinson No 2) in the ownership of that company. The photo was taken at Westbourne Villas on the opening day, 3rd July 1884. No-one present is wearing a uniform. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and District Tramways steam tram No 2
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver (in the cab) and a stoker or fitter in the middle.


Horse drivers and conductors
Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 5 and driver
Horsecar No 5 captured on a summer's day in 1897 between Southwick and Fishersgate. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 5 and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing informal but smart attire, and a straw boater.


Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 11 and crew
The crew of Horsecar No 11 pose for the camera at the Shoreham terminus - photo purportedly taken circa 1904. Both the driver and conductor are wearing soft-topped caps, seemingly without insignia, along with what appear to be company-issued coats. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways staff photo 1905
Staff photo purportedly taken in 1905. All the tramcar staff are wearing uniforms, a policy which appears to have lapsed by 1907. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways staff photo 1905
A blow-up of the above photo showing a group of very young conductors and drivers. The cap badge is probably an employee number, though there remains a possibility that it is the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' issue. The caps have an unusually wide, soft-topped crown, giving an almost convex appearance. These uniforms are like no others used on UK tramway systems of the period, so were very probably locally sourced.


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways horse tram 1905
B&STCo Horsecar No 12 stands outside the Burrell Hotel in 1905. Both the driver and conductor are wearing the uniforms seen in the 1905 staff photo above. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 12 and crew
The rather indignant looking conductor of Horsecar No 12 scrutinises the cameraman at the passing loop opposite Kingston Terrace in 1907. Neither conductor nor driver are wearing uniforms or insignia of any description. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 10 with driver Ben Fears
Driver Ben Fears with Tramcar No 10 at Southwick in 1910. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 10 and crew
A very youthful conductor and his driver, with the last operational tramcar (No 10) at the Fishersgate Terrace loop, - photo undated, but probably taken around 1912. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Brighton and Shoreham Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the 1905 staff photo above, showing on the extreme left, a rather youthful-looking inspector. He appears to be wearing a standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, above an embroidered Inspector badge.


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways BETCo cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company cap badge - brass. This was possibly worn by the B&STCo's sinlge inspector. Author's Collection.