Leeds City Tramways

Summary
Leeds introduced Europe's first overhead electric service (Roundhay Electric Tramway) on 29th October 1891, though strictly speaking it did not officially open to passengers until the following month. The line was owned by Leeds Corporation, but was worked on their behalf by Mr Graff Baker, the agent of the Thompson-Houston Company of the United States. Staff — presumably employees of the Thompson-Houston Company — were issued with uniforms: conductors wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and lapels, whilst motormen appear to have worn single-breasted jackets with five buttons and high, fold-over collars. Whereas the jackets appear to have been devoid of insignia (other than possibly the buttons), the kepi-style caps bore a very large semi-circular shaped cap badge, the precise details of which are unknown. The company referred to this badge as a 'front plate', so it was in all likelihood made of pressed metal.

Roundhay Electric Tramway staff were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons, lapels and high fold-over collars; once again, these do not appear to have carried badges of any kind.

Following the corporation take-over of the Leeds Tramways Company in 1894, staff were required to wear uniforms, excepting those working on the steam tram engines (drivers and firemen), who wore typical railway footplate attire. The corporation initially continued the practice of the erstwhile tramway company in requiring conductors to wear uniforms purchased at their own expense, a policy which was abolished in 1897, the corporation thereafter purchasing and issuing the uniforms.

Conductors and drivers (with the exception of the steam engine crews) were eventually issued with double-breasted jackets of blue serge with red piping, bearing two rows of five buttons (carrying the municipal device — see link) and high lapels; these were in fact were very similar in style, if not identical, to those worn by staff working the Roundhay electric concession, and likewise, do not appear to have carried any insignia. Caps were in a kepi style with a glossy peak, but do not appear to have carried a cap badge.

Horse and steam services continued up until 13th October 1901, and the 1st April 1902 respectively, with corporation-operated electric services being introduced from 1897 onwards. During the early municipal era, conductors on both the horse, steam and electric services wore large round licences (see below); it is unclear whether drivers were also required to wear these, though photographs would suggest not. Surviving records indicate that tramcar staff were also required to wear a small badge issued by Watch Committee; although the precise form is unclear, it may well have been worn on the bearer's jacket lapel (see photo below). The wearing of these badges was dispensed with in late 1902 when the Tramways Committee took over licensing from the Wacth Committee.

Around 1900, large gilt cap badges were issued; although these appear at first glance to be round, they are in fact oval, being slightly taller than broad (see below). The badge comprised a chequered back plate within a wreath, with 'LEEDS' in open letters at the top (beneath a rope), and 'TRAMWAYS' in relief at the bottom — a nickel employee number was mounted in the middle of the badge. The kepi-style caps upon which these new badges were mounted also bore a wide, corduroy hat band. In 1907, the kepi-style caps were replaced by a more contemporary military design with a tensioned crown (top), the badge remaining unchanged.

The style of the uniform jackets was changed significantly some time before the Great War (possibly as early as 1910), and though still double-breasted, they now had a more functional look to them with high fold-over collars rather than lapels, and were buttoned up to the neck, very probably a concession to the Leeds climate! After the Great War, a return was made to jackets with lapels, still double-breasted, but giving a much smarter appearance than their immediate predecessors. An employee number was now worn on both upper lapels (in individual metal numerals), prefixed with either an 'M' or a 'C' for Motorman or Conductor.

In 1927, a new cap badge was introduced that was quite unlike anything used by any other UK tramway concern (with the possible exception of the nearby Mexborough and Swinton Tramways - see link); this comprised a scallop-topped nickel shield with 'LEEDS' in a blue enamel inlay at the top, and a representation of Leeds prototype Tramcar No 400 in relief underneath. Similar badges were also issued to bus and trolleybus staff, but with the respective vehicles in relief rather than a tram, and enamel inlay of a different colour. After the Second World War, new convex caps were also introduced; these were very reminiscent of those worn by US Air Force crews, which together with the unusual US Police Department-like cap badge, made for a distinctly American appearance.

A variety of greatcoats appear to have been worn over the years, both double-breasted and single-breasted, and invariably with five buttons and high fold-over collars; these did not carry any insignia. In later decades (possibly from the 1930s onwards), a long, double-breasted design was used with two rows of four buttons, lapels and epaulettes; the latter had a button fastening and bore an employee number at the arm end (in individual metal numerals) and a Leeds coat of arms badge in the middle. In all likelihood, the insignia at this time were in chrome.

A single photograph of the Roundhay Electric Tramway senior staff member has survived which almost certainly shows one of the two 'Inspectors of Motors'. The individual depicted (see below) would appear to be wearing a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye affair), along with a kepi-style cap topped off with a pom pom; the cap carried a badge of unknown pattern, but one which was certainly significantly smaller than those issued to motormen and conductors.

In the first years of corporation operation, inspectors appear to have worn elaborate single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye arrangement) and upright collars; it is unclear if the latter bore any insignia. Tall pill-box style caps were worn that had an unusual pom pom on the top; once again, it is unclear whether they carried a badge of any description. In later years, inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with a row of five black buttons, two waist pockets, two breast pockets (with button closures) and lapels; the latter carried Inspector on each side in embroidered script lettering. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown and carried a blue, red and white enamel cap badge in the form of a shield, which bore the letters 'L.C.T' and 'INSPECTOR' within a ribbon. Two varieties are known, almost certainly representing two distinct periods; from the general look and feel of these badges, it seems likely that the darker one is the earlier, though this is just speculation. Inspectors were issued with gabardine overcoats, certainly after the Second World War, but possibly earlier.

In common with most tramway systems, Leeds employed women during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. Photos indicate that different styles of uniform were worn, though whether this reflected summer/winter wear or a change in style is currently unclear. Both types were tailored single-breasted jackets in blue serge with red piping and epaulettes; whereas one had breast pockets (with button fastenings) and high, fold-over collars, the other had hip pockets (with button fastenings), a waist belt (with two buttons) and lapels. A long matching skirt was also worn. Given the Leeds weather, heavy single-breasted overcoats were frequently worn, which like the jackets, had high fold-over collars and epaulettes. Headgear comprised baggy peaked caps (at least in winter), which carried the standard Leeds City Tramways cap badge. Conductresses were apparently awarded a 'Great World War' service badge after the war.

Ladies were also employed during the Second World War, and seemingly continuously thereafter, right up until closure of the system. During this later period, female staff wore single-breasted tailored jackets with lapels and knee-length skirts; headgear comprised baggy caps carrying the standard Leeds City Tramways shield badge.

For further details of Leeds City Tramways uniforms, see Leeds Transport Volume 2 1902 — 193, pages 669-670; J Soper, Leeds Transport Historical Society (1996).

For a complete history of the system, see 'Leeds Transport Volumes 1 to 4' by J Soper; Leeds Transport Historical Society (1985 to 2007).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Leeds City Tramways Horse tram Headingly Oak 1907
A conductor and driver pose with an unidentified horsecar outside the Headingley Oak — photo probably taken around 1907, but certainly after the corporation takeover of 1894 as the waist panel carries the corporation crest. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways Horse tram
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and driver. Both men are wearing uniform greatcoats and kepi-style caps, the latter seemingly without insignia. The conductor is wearing a large licence, hanging from his lapel, probably of the type shown below.



Probable early municipal-era conductor's licence — brass. This appears to have been introduced in the late 1890s and its use only persisted for a few years. Author's Collection.


Steam tram drivers and conductors
Leeds City Tramways Steam Tram No 28
Steam Tram No 28 (a Thomas Green product of 1890) and Milnes Trailer No 37 pictured at Wortley — photo probably taken shortly after the municipal take-over (1894), as the trailer still has the company device on the waist panel.


Leeds City Tramways Steam tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver and conductor, the latter in a jacket with plain buttons, and with a kepi-style cap, seemingly without a badge.


Leeds City Tramways steam tram No 12 with crew at Wortley
Driver and conductor pose with Steam Tram No 12 (a Thomas Green product of 1886) and Trailer No 26 (a Milnes product of 1890) at Wortley — photo undated, but definitely taken after the municipal take-over of 1894 as the trailer has the city arms on its waist panel. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways steam tram No 12 with crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing typical railway footplate-like attire, and the conductor, who appears to have a self-purchased overcoat and a kepi-style cap, the latter again without a badge.


Leeds City Tramways steam tram with crew
Conductor and driver with Thomas Green-built Steam Tram No 30 (delivered in 1897) and Milnes Trailer No 38 at the Meanwood terminus — photo undated, but probably taken around 1899. The conductor is wearing a double-breasted uniform jacket and kepi-style cap, but once again without an obvious badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds  City Tramways Steam Tram No 10 and Trailer No 50
Steam Tram No 30 (a Thomas Green product of 1896) and Trailer No 60 pictured at what is believed to be Castleton Bridge in 1900.


Leeds City Tramways Conductor and steam tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew. The conductor is wearing a large, round licence, almost certainly the same pattern as shown above.


Motormen and conductors
Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram and crew
Conductor and motorman pose with a new electric tramcar at the Roundhay Terminus in 1891. Photo from Author's Collection.


Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, presumably employees of the Thomson-Houston Company of the United States, which carried out the electrical installation and which also owned the vehicles themselves. The metal cap badge is very large, and of a style favoured by American railroad and streetcar companies.


Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram No 79 and crew
Tramcar No 79 outside the depot — photo undated, but almost certainly taken around the time of opening (October/November 1891). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram No 79 and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman in more detail.


Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram No 77 and driver
Tramcar No 77 in Beckett St — photo undated, but certainly taken before the BTHCo withdrew from the lease in 1896, and probably much earlier. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram staff
A poor quality, but nevertheless interesting photograph of a large assemblage of Roundhay Electric Tramway employees, possibly the entire operating staff — photo undated, but certainly taken before the municipal take-over. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways No 147 and crew
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 147 with a service to Harehills via Beckett St — photo undated, but almost certainly taken around the time the electric service was introduced, 2nd June 1900. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps, seemingly without insignia, whilst the conductor has what is probably a municipal licence on his left breast.


Leeds City Tramways tram driver or conductor Edwardian
A rare early studio portrait of a Leeds City Tramways tramwayman — photo undated, but probably taken in the early Edwardian era.


Leeds City Tramways tram driver conductor cap badge
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap with its corduroy hat band and new, elaborate cap badge, in this case No 1182.


Leeds City Tramways cap badge 156
Leeds City Tramways cap badge — gilt. These were introduced in 1902, and lasted through to 1927. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways lapel badge Edwardian
Another blow-up of the above photo, which reveals the wearer's top left button to actually be a badge. This may well be a Watch Committee license badge, which were worn up until late 1902.


Leeds City Tramways No 157 and motorman
1899-built Tramcar No 175 on a service to Beeston — photo undated, but given the pristine condition of the vehicle, probably not all that long after the new route to Beeston was opened in 1901. Although the uniform is unchanged from earlier photos, the motorman is clearly wearing the new cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


eeds City Tramways 225 and crew May 16th 1906
Somewhat of a rarity for a tramway photo, one that is seemingly datable to the minute! This shows the conductor (C Annakin) and motorman (F Russell), as well as two other tramway employees, with the first ever tramcar to Horsfield, at Calverley Lane End. It was apparently taken at 8.15 am on 16th May 1906. All members of staff are wearing kepi-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways motorman 1908
A photo taken in July 1908 to commemorate a royal visit. It is included because it shows the 'merit stripe' on the motorman's left sleeve; these were awarded after seven years' good service. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Tram No 37 and crew
1904-built Brush Tramcar No 37 with crew on a service to New Inn, Wortley — photo undated, but probably taken in the late-Edwardian era. The new military-style caps, which were introduced in 1907, are clearly in evidence. Both men are wearing long greatcoats, one single-breasted and the other double-breasted. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways tramwayman tram driver conductor
Studio portrait of an LCT tramwayman — photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. New jackets with high, fold-over collars were introduced in the years shortly before the Great War. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Tram No 44 and crew
Leeds crew with Tramcar No 44 on a service to the Corn Exchange at Hunslet terminus about 1912. The motorman bears a 'merit stripe' on his left arm. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Tram No 64 and crew
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 64 — photo undated, but probably taken just before the Great War. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Tram no 61 and conductor
A conductor turning the pole of Tramcar No 61 on a service to Lower Wortley — photo undated, but probably taken just after the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways Tram no 259 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 259 on a service to Morley — photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1920s. Note the change in the style of the conductor's uniform jacket, which has now reverted to lapels. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways Tram no 400 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 400 on Route 3 pose for the camera of H Nicol — photo very probably taken in the mid 1930s, but certainly after 1932 when Mr Vane Morland became General Manager (see tramcar rocker panel). Note the new shield cap badge, which has a representation of Tramcar No 400 on it. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Leeds City Tramways cap badge
Later-period cap badge — nickel. The tram is No 400. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Inpsector
Motorman, inspector and conductor pose for cameraman R B Parr with Tramcar No 602 at Middleton on 11th July 1953. Note the conductor's post-war 'US Air Force'-style cap. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Leeds City Tramways motorman in Tramcar No 277
A motorman poses for the camera of M J O'Connor, who fortunately for posterity, often took interior views of the tramcars with their crews. This one was taken in the interior of Tramcar No 277 at Dewsbury Rd on 6th May 1956. The greatcoat epaulettes have an employee number, as well as what appears to be a Leeds coat of arms badge. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.



Coat of arms epaulette badge — chrome. With thanks to Billy Haw.


Leeds City Tramways motorman
Leeds City Tramways motorman — 1956. Photo by M J O'Connor, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.



Leeds City Tramways motorman tram drivers last day
Leeds City Tramways motormen (the individual on the right-hand side is Employee No M378) captured in the depot on the last day of services — 7th November 1959. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Leeds City Tramways cap badge
Cap badge — brass. To date no photos have surfaced which show this badge being worn, even though it is without doubt a 'Leeds' badge, and a couple of heavily worn examples have survived, which strongly suggests that they were used in service. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways cap badge
Driver cap badge — brass. It is unclear if this pattern of badge was ever worn, as no photographs are known in which these are present. Given that the unusual shield shape closely resembles the nickel and enamel shield cap badge introduced around 1927, it could be that this badge is in fact an example made for consideration at the same time, but ultimately not favoured by the department. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways cap badge
Conductor cap badge — brass. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Learner badge
LCT 'Learner' badge — yellow and black enamel. It is unclear precisely what this badge was used for, but possibly for motormen and bus drivers. Photo in the public domain.


Inspectors
Leeds Roundhay Electric Tram
A Thomson-Houston Company electric tramcar with three tramwaymen — photo undated, but probably taken in 1891. Photo in the public domain.


Leeds Roundhay Park electric tramway inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing the figure on the left, who is in all probability an 'Inspector of Motors'. Although the image is of poor quality, it is good enough to discern the pom pom on the man's cap, as well as the difference in the size and shape of the cap badge, when compared with those issued to motormen and conductors. Additionally, there are no reflections from metallic buttons, suggesting that the buttons were either plain composite, or that the jacket used hook and eye fastenings.


Leeds City Tramways tram No 6 and crew
The crew of what is very likely a brand new Tramcar No 6 on the Kirkstall to Roundhay route — photo undated, but probably taken in 1897 when this corporation service was inaugurated. The man on the right is probably an inspector. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways inpsector
A blow-up of the photo of Tramcar 602 above (1953), showing details of the inspector's uniform and cap badge.


Leeds City Tramways Inspector's cap badge
Probable early-period inspector's cap badge — blue, white & red enamel and nickel. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Inspector's cap badge
Probable late-period inspector's cap badge — blue, white & red enamel, and silver/nickel. Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways inpsector and Tramcar No 209
Motorman and inspector pose for photographer M J O'Connor with Tramcar No 209 at the Temple Newsam terminus on 7th May 1958. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Female staff
Leeds City Tramways Great War conductresses
Studio portrait of Leeds conductresses — photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War, The lady in the middle row, second from left, is wearing a tunic rather than an overcoat, unlike the remainder of the group, Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Great War Tram Conductress
A lovely studio portrait of an LCT Great War tram conductress. The square of leather on the left-side of her jacket was reinforcement, to stop abrasion from the ticket punch (see next photo). Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Great War conductress
Studio portrait of a Leeds City Tramways Great War conductress and her husband (presumably). Author's Collection.


Leeds City Tramways Great War conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap, the standard LCT cap badge, and what is presumably a regimental cap badge (intended to show support for a loved one away with the armed services).


Leeds City Tramways conductress and Inspector
Conductress and inspector (from the shape of the cap badge — see above) on the footstep of Tramcar No 14 - photo undated, but probably taken during or shortly after the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leeds City Tramways Great War conductress and Tram No 339
Great War conductress and motorman with Tramcar No 339 in 1916, probably at Roundhay. The lady depicted was apparently Leeds' second conductress. Photo courtesy of Adam Smees, the subject's grandson.


Leeds City Tramways conductress
Conductress and motorman pose for photographer M J O'Connor in Tramcar No 101 at Roundhay Park on 22nd May 1956. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Leeds City Tramways 1940s 1950s Tram conductress Winifred Twigg
Leeds City Tramways conductress — Winifred Twigg — captured for posterity; photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1940s or 1950s. Photo in the public domain.