City of Hull Tramways /Hull Corporation Tramways

Summary
Although Hull Corporation became a horse tramway owner in 1896, it did not operate the services itself, instead leasing them to a local operator, W Nettleton. Municipal operation therefore only began on 5th July 1899, with the commencement of the first electric services. Although the corporation was also a steam tramway owner, having purchased the assets of the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramway Company on 31st January 1900, it did not actually operate the tramway itself, instead having made provision for the company to continue working it until reconstruction took place.

Staff on the newly inaugurated electric services were issued with single-breasted jackets with a row of five buttons (almost certainly in brass and carrying the Hull shield device - see link), three waist-level flap pockets and upright collars. The uniforms were in blue serge piped in red, and with the exception of the buttons, did not carry any kind of insignia. Caps were initially in the kepi style, and carried a one-piece 'HCT' initials cap badge (almost certainly in brass), which was worn above an employee number (in individual brass numerals). These caps were subsequently changed, probably in the late Edwardian era, to a more modern military style with a tensioned crown (top) and glossy peak; they continued however to carry the same insignia as previously.

A more modern style of jacket was certainly introduced in later years, possibly just after the Great War, and though still single-breasted, it now had two breast pockets (with button closures), lapels and epaulettes (again with button closures). A new cap badge was also introduced, probably in 1919 when the name of the enterprise was officially changed to Hull Corporation Tramways; the badge comprised the Hull municipal shield device within a garter containing the full system title, 'Hull Corporation Tramways'. These badges exist in both brass and nickel; although the form remained the same, the badge title was presumably changed in 1932 to reflect the enterprise's new name, Hull Corporation Transport.

Tramcar crews were also issued with long, double-breasted great coats with two rows of six unmarked buttons and high, fold-over collars; these coats appear to have been completely devoid of insignia.

In the early years, inspectors (and Depot Foremen) wore blue cloth uniforms piped in red, comprising double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons, three waist-level flap pockets, an open breast pocket, and lapels; the lapel collars bore their grade - 'Inspector' or 'Foreman' - in embroidered script lettering. In contrast to tramcar staff, caps were squatter in style and bore a large silver badge, almost naval in appearance, which apparently bore the grade in silver thread; the caps were subsequently changed to a military style with a tensioned crown, probably at the same time as this style of cap was adopted for tramcar staff. For inspectors (at least), a more traditional tramway uniform was eventually introduced; this comprised a single-breasted jacket (with hidden buttons, or more likely an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and with upright collars; the latter probably bore 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs.

A photograph has survived (see below) which shows an individual wearing a much more elaborate uniform comprising a single-breasted, three-quarter-length jacket with hook and eye fastening, ostentatious braiding (on the front and sleeves) and upright collars; the latter appear to have borne 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. The cap was in a kepi-style (despite the fact that this relatively old fashioned by the time of the photo - the Great War) with a glossy peak (with braiding), a wreath badge, and all topped by a pom pom. It seems highly improbable that the individual was an ordinary inspector, and much more likely that he was a Chief Inspector.

In common with many UK tramway systems, women were employed during the Great War - and for a short time afterwards - to replace male staff lost to the armed services, initially as conductresses, but later as motorwomen and inspectresses. These ladies were issued with single-breasted, tailored jackets with five buttons, four pockets (with button closures), a waist belt with button fastening, epaulettes and lapels. Long matching skirts were also worn. As was the case for male uniforms, no insignia other than the buttons was carried. No concession appears to have been made to the ladies in respect of headwear, so they wore the same caps as their male colleagues. Odd photographs have survived which show women wearing a different style of jacket, still single breasted, but with two waist-level pockets and high-fold-over collars; it is unclear whether one style succeeded the other or whether they were intended for different grades.

The ladies were also issued with long, single-breasted overcoats with six buttons, epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; these garment also appear not to have borne any badges.

Female staff were also employed during World War II, but photographic evidence is currently lacking.

Images

Motormen and conductors
City of Hull Tramways staff photo in Cottingham Road Tram Shed
An excellent photo taken inside the Cottingham Rd Depot showing an array of tramcar staff (motormen and conductors), as well as a senior grade employee (far right), who is possibly an inspector - photo undated, but probably taken shortly after the commencement of electric services in 1899. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gibson (see link).


City of Hull tramways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo, showing details of the uniform, including the kepi-style caps, which bore a one-piece 'HCT' initials badge above an employee number. Note that the individual on the right appears to be wearing some sort of waterproof cover on his cap. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gibson (see link).


City of Hull Tramways, Tram No 28 in Anlaby Road
The crew of Tramcar No 28 in Anlaby Rd near Wheeler St Depot in 1908. Both men are wearing kepis, which by this time were quite old fashioned. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gibson (see link).


Hull Corporation Tramways tramwayman
Hull tramwayman No 441 poses in his somewhat ill-fitting uniform for what was undoubtedly a family snap - photo undated, but probably taken before the Great War. Note the new military-style cap. The one-piece 'HCT' cap badge, and the fact that the buttons consist of a large shield device (see link), support Hull as the correct identification. Author's collection.


Hull Corporation Tramways Tram No 54 conductress and driver 1915
Conductress (unfortunately blurred) and motorman with Tramcar No 54 on Hedon Road (Route M/A) in 1915. The motorman's great coat buttons are plain (i.e. unmarked). Author's collection.


Hull Corporation Tramways crew and No 134
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 134 outside the depot on 22nd May 1938. Photographer, W A Camwell. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Hull Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge - gilt/brass; probably issued to tramway staff from shortly after the Great War until 1932 or thereabouts.


Hull Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge - nickel; probably issued to tramway staff from shortly after the Great War until 1932 or thereabouts.



Possible tramway-era epaulette badge -brass


Hull Corporation Transport staff photo
Hull Corporation Transport staff photo - undated, but probably taken after the demise of the tramway given the plethora of WW2 medals on display. Photo courtesy of Memory Lane Images.


Hull Corporation Transport drivers conductors
Blow-up of the above photo showing a group of four drivers/conductors.


Hull Corporation Transport cap badge
Hull Corporation Transport cap badge - nickel; possibly issued to tramway staff from 1932 to 1945.


Senior staff
City of Hull Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the Cottingham Depot staff photo above. The figure on the right is probably the Depot Foreman. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gibson (see link).


Hull City Tramways Great War Tram Foreman
A blow-up of the Great War conductresses depot photo below, showing an individual who is, in all probability, a Foreman. He is still wearing the same style of double-breasted jacket seen in the turn of the century photograph above, though the cap had by this time been superseded by a more modern military style.


Hull City Tramways Chief Inspector
Another blow-up of the Great War conductresses depot photo (see below), showing an individual who, from the elaborate nature of his uniform, would appear to be a Chief Inspector. His collar insignia appear to be 'Inspector'.


61 - 1CROP
The crew of Tramcar No 61 pose for the camera, along with an inspector - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Hull Corporation Tramways inspector
Blow-up of the post-WW2 staff photo above, showing an inspector.


Female staff
Hull City Tramways Great War tram conductresses
A group of female staff (twenty-two in total) along with two senior uniformed members of staff - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. The lady seated second from the right on the front row is believed to be Mary Witty, whilst the lady on the middle row at the extreme left is Alice Henrietta Petersen; both these ladies are pictured in studio portraits below. Author's Collection.


Hull City Tramways Grat War Tram conductress Mary Witty Ball
Hull City Tramways Great War female employee (No 647), Mary Witty (nee Ball). Author's Collection.


Hull City Tramways Grat War Tram conductress Mary Witty Ball
A blow-up of the above photo, which clearly shows the one-piece nature of the cap badge.


Hull City Tramways Great War tram conductress
Hull City Tramways Great War female employee (No 747). In contrast to the other photos, the jacket here has only two pockets and high, fold-over collars rather than lapels. Author's Collection.


Hull City Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo, which is sharp enough to show the Hull shield on the buttons.


Hull Corporation Tramways conductress
HCT conductress (Employee No 660) - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gibson (see link).


Hull City Tramways Great War tram conductress
Studio portrait of a Hull City Tramways Great War tram conductress (Empoyee No 809) in a great coat. Author's Collection.


Hull City Tramways Great War conductress Alice Henrietta Petersen
Hull City Tramways Great War conductress Alice Henrietta Petersen (nee Rosenqvist), Employee No 615. Photo courtesy of her grand-daughter, Catherine Ager (nee Petersen).


Hull Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 106, motorman and conductress, Great War
Conductress and motorman with Tramcar No 106 on the Holderness Rd route - photo dated 25th February 1919. Author's collection