Leicester Corporation/City Tramways

Summary
Following its take-over of the Leicester Tramways Company on 1st July 1901, the corporation operated horse trams for three years, the final service taking place on 4th October 1904. Somewhat surprisingly, the corporation appears to have continued the practice of the former company, requiring drivers and conductors to wear reasonably smart attire (jackets, shirts, ties) rather than issuing uniforms. Whilst drivers appear to have worn the normal headgear of the day, principally flat caps, conductors seem to have been issued with soft-topped, kepi-style caps. Whether these caps carried any kind of insiginia is impossible to say, though photos would suggest not.

Photos taken following the inauguration of electric services, show staff wearing double-breasted jackets with two rows of three buttons and lapels; the latter carried an employee number on the left-hand side in individual metal numerals, almost certainly brass. Headgear took the form of military-style caps with a tensioned crown (top); these bore a small municipal badge comprising the shield, crest, supporters and motto of Leicester, which was worn above a standard, off-the-shelf, script-lettering cap badge, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor'. The latter badges were dispensed with some time before the advent of the Great War.

During 1919, or shortly thereafter, and following the grant of city status to Leicester, the name of the enterprise was changed from 'Leicester Corporation Tramways' to 'Leicester City Tramways'. This was reflected in the issuance of a new cap badge, which took the form of a brass oval inlaid with blue enamel. This bore an employee number in the centre, with 'City of Leicester' and the employee's grade (either 'Conductor' or 'Driver') around the outside. A separately cast municipal coat of arms badge was attached to the top of the main badge (see below). The badges were very probably changed to chrome in the 1930s or 1940s, as chrome tramway buttons were also issued (see link).

Staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter bore an employee number in individual brass numerals, once again n the left-hand side only.

In the Edwardian era, inspectors wore double-breasted jackets with lapels; the latter carried elaborate embroidered 'LCT' initials, though probably only on the left-hand side. Caps were in the military style, but with a woven (straw?) upper and a braided chin strap; they bore 'Tramways Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Although inspectors' uniforms undoubtedly changed in later years, photographic evidence of this is currently lacking. A studio portrait has however survived of a 'Tramways Motor Inspector' (see below), which was probably taken shortly after the Great War or in the early 1920s. The uniform is very similar to that worn by the Edwardian inspectors, except that the 'LCT' initials were carried on the right-hand upper lapel, and the cap bore braiding on the glossy peak, and 'Tramways Motor Inspector' in embroidered script lettering.

In common with many tramway operators, Leicester employed female conductors during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with tailored single-breasted jackets with four pockets (two waist and two breast pockets, the latter with button closures) epaulettes and lapels; it is unclear whether the latter carried any insignia, but probably not. Headgear consisted of a wide-brimmed bonnet which appears to have carried the standard municipal cap badge; the hats were sometimes worn with one side upturned, Australian bush hat fashion. Women were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with lapels, and possibly epaulettes.

Female staff were also employed in considerable numbers during the Second World War. They were issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with four buttons, four pockets, lapels and epaulettes, along with matching trousers; it is currently unclear what insignia were carried on the jackets. Headgear is even less, clear, but appears to have taken the form of forage-style caps, though confirmation must await the discovery of better photographic evidence.

For a largely pictorial history of the system, see: 'Leicester's Trams' by Geoff Creese; Irwell Press (2000).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Leicester Corporation Tramways horse tram 9
A nice study of the driver and conductor of Horsecar No 9 at the Groby Rd terminus in 1902. Although neither man appears to be wearing a uniform, the conductor at least is wearing a soft-topped, kepi-style cap. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Leicester Corporation Tramways horse tram 18
Driver and conductor with Horsecar No 18 - photo undated, but certainly taken after the corporation takeover in July 1901 as the vehicle carries the new system title in full. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Leicester Corporation Tramways horse tram 27
A rare 'in motion' shot showing the driver of Horsecar No 27 - photo undated, but once again certainly after July 1901. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Motormen and conductors
Leicester Corporation Trmaways Tram No 10 and crew Aylestone
The crew of what appears to be a virtually brand new Tramcar No 12 (dating the photograph to late 1904 or early 1905) pose for the camera at what is possibly the terminus at Aylestone. Author's collection.


Leicester Corporation Tramways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is wearing a smart double-breasted jacket with lapels, along with white shirt and tie. His military-style cap carries a script-lettering cap badge - 'Motorman' - above which a small badge can just be made out, almost certainly that depicted below.


Leicester Corporation Tramways cap badge - 1904 to 1919
Leicester Corporation Tramways cap badge - 1904 to c1919 - brass. Author's collection.


Leicester City Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges - 'Motorman' and 'Conductor' - of the type used by Leicester Corporation Tramways, brass. Early photos clearly show these badges, whereas on later ones they are absent, suggesting that they fell out of use at some point.


Leicester Corporation Tramways conductor 1904 or 1905
Another blow-up of the photograph above, this time showing the conductor, Employee No 32.


Leicester City Tramways Tram No 4 1905
Another photo of what appears to be a new, or nearly new vehicle, this time Tramcar No 4. Photo courtesy of the Richard Rosa Collection.


Leicester City Tramways tram driver Edwardian
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman (possibly Employee No 9). His script-lettering grade badge can just be made out, as well as the general shape of the municipal badge above.


Leicester Corporation Tramways staff
A group of LCT motormen and conductors at an unidentified depot, many in white shirt and white tie/cravat - photo undated, but probably mid-Edwardian. Author's Collection.


Leicester Corporation Tramways drivers and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo showing a few of the assembled conductors and motormen.


Leciester Corporation Tramways No 141 and crew
Leicester Corporation Tramways crew with Tramcar No 141 - photo undated, but very probably taken in 1913/14. Both men are wearing the same style of uniform seen in the earlier photo, though without the script-lettering grade cap badge. With thanks to Steve Foxon.


Leicester City Tramways conductor, Hubert Marvin
Leicester City Tramways 'Employee No 474', Hubert Marvin - photo undated, but probably taken just before or just after the Second World War. Photo with kind permission of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust.


Leicester City Tramways driver cap badge No 7
Driver cap badge (1919 to 1930s) - brass and blue enamel.


Leicester City Tramways conductor cap badge
Conductor cap badge (1919 to 1930s) - brass and blue enamel.


Leicester City Tramways conductor cap badge
Conductor cap badge (1930s onwards) - chrome and blue enamel.


Leicester City Tramways motorman and Tramcar No 51
Motorman with Tramcar No 21 on a Light Railway Transport League tour - photo undated, but probably taken shortly after the Second World War (No 21 was withdrawn in 1949). Stephen Howarth Collection.


Leicester Corporation Conductor licence
Leicester Corporation 'conductor' licence - brass. This may have been worn by tramway staff at some point, though photographic evidence would suggest not. With thanks to John Burford.


Senior staff
Leicester Corporation Tramways Inspector
LCT ‘Inspector’ in what appears to be ’summer’ uniform - photo undated, but almost certainly taken in the early Edwardian era. With kind permission of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust.


Leicester City Tramways Motor Inspector
LCT 'Tramways Motor Inspector' - photo undated, but probably taken during the Great War given that he appears to be wearing a Silver War Badge on his right lapel; these were issued to soldiers who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or illness. Author's collection.


Female staff
Leicester Corporation Tramways great war conductress
A motorman and conductress of what would appear to be Leicester Corporation Tramways, with a tramcar in the 60s series - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War. The conductress is wearing a tailored, single-breasted jacket, seemingly without insignia of any kind, and a wide bonnet with a hat band, above which is a small badge, very possibly the standard LCT issue. The conductress is wearing a white cravat, something also worn by many male staff, and seemingly a peculiarity of the LCT. Author's Collection.


Leicester Corporation Tramways Tram No 141 and crew, conductress
Motorman and conductress pose with Tramcar No 121, probably outside the Abbey Park Road depot - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leicester City Tramways conductress Second World War
An LCT conductress poses for the camera in front of Tramcar No 31 outside the Bell Hotel at the Humberston Gate terminus on the 21st May 1943. Photo by G F Cunningham, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.