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, 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 greaseproof 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 BET was left to operate an antiquated horse-drawn system through to its eventual closure in 1913.

It would appear that the BET 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 unusally large by tramway standards, and probably bore the standard BET 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge, though this cannot be stated with certainty. As a whole, the uniforms were markedly different to those worn on other BET-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 BET take-over. One photo does however exist (see below) of an inspector in BET days (1905); this shows that standard BET uniform practice was followed, namely, a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons and upright collars, the latter carrying the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. An upright, military-style cap was worn that bore a hat band with the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' badge, along with 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering below.

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 (8 in total on the uncropped image) is wearing a uniform. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Horse drivers and conductors
Brighton and Shoreham horse tram No 5 and driver
A summer's day in 1897 between Southwick and Fishersgate. The driver sports informal but smart attire, and a straw boater. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


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 driver and conductor are wearing caps, seemingly without insignia, along with what appear to be company-issued tunics. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.


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


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways staff photo 1905
Blow-up of the above photo showing a group of conductors and drivers. The cap badge is possibly the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' issue.


Brighton and Shoreham Tramways BET cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company cap badge - brass.


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


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 particular 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 particular 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 inpsector
Blow-up of the staff photo above, showing on the extreme left, a rather youthful-looking inspector. He appears to be wearing a standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, above an embroidered 'Inspector' badge.