Huddersfield Corporation Tramways

Summary
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways was the first municipal authority to actually work its tramway system, rather than leasing it to an independent company, and though it was at first overwhelmingly a steam-operated enterprise, it did briefly operate horse tram services (from 1885 to 1888) on its Moldgreen route. Staff working these services wore smart but informal attire, jacket, shirt and tie, trousers, and the ubiquitous bowler hat, a form of headgear much favoured by horse tram staff throughout the country, at least up until the late 1890s.

Steam tram drivers (and firemen) wore typical railway footplate clothing (cotton jackets and trousers) with greasetop or cloth caps (without badges). Conductors initially wore identical attire to their horse-tram counterparts, but some time in the 1890s, it appears that the corporation decided to issue uniforms. Jackets were single-breasted with four buttons (probably marked with the full system title - see link) and lapels, and were cut away at the bottom giving the impression of a frock coat. Caps were in the kepi style and carried an oval badge of unknown pattern, possibly embroidered cloth, though they could have been of metal with a leather inlay (photos show a much darker appearance in the centre). The badge probably bore an employee number in the middle.

For the inauguration of electric services, staff were issued with single-breasted jackets with four buttons and lapels, the latter being plain. Caps were initially in the kepi style, and carried a large oval cap badge of unknown pattern, almost certainly in brass to match the buttons (see link), though a change was subsequently made in the mid Edwardian era to more modern military style of cap with a tensioned crown (top). In the late Edwardian era, a new style of single-breasted jacket was introduced with five buttons, breast pockets, upright collars and epaulettes. The collars bore 'H C T' in individual brass letters on the bearer's right-hand side, and an employee number in individual brass numerals on the left-hand side; the epaulettes had a button fastening at the neck end, and bore a small brass municipal shield badge (see below). At the same time, the large oval cap badge appears to have been dispensed with, being superseded by a standard, off-the-shelf, script-lettering grade badge, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - with the municipal shield badge worn above. Soon afterwards, motormen appear to have been switched to a double-breasted, 'lancer-style' of tunic with two rows of five buttons - narrowing from top to bottom - upright collars and epaulettes; the collars and epaulettes carried the same insignia as conductors' jackets.

A final change was made to the uniform in the 1930s, when both conductors and motormen were issued with a more modern-cut of double-breasted jacket with two rows of four buttons, lapels and epaulettes; the insignia was identical to that worn previously, but with insignia and buttons more almost certainly in chrome rather than brass. Conductors and motormen were also issued with double-breasted overcoats; photographs suggest that these had no badges whatsoever.

In the steam era, inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with lapels, similar to those issued to conductors, but with slit pockets; no badges of any kind adorned the jackets. Like the conductors, a kepi-style cap was worn, seemingly with the same style cap badge (possibly containing an employee number), but with a pom pom on the top. In the electric era, a change was made to more traditional single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), edged in a different and finer material than the main jacket. Caps remained in the kepi style, possibly without the pom pom, and were worn long after tramcar staff had switched to military-style caps; the kepis probably carried an embroidered script-lettering grade badge - 'Inspector'. In later years, inspectors may have been issued with more modern uniforms - evidence is currently lacking - though they certainly switched to the military-style caps.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, female staff were employed during the Great War to replace tramwaymen lost to the armed services. Lady conductors wore tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets, a waist belt, and high collars; it is unclear if the latter carried any insignia. A long matching skirt was worn, along with a baggy cap with a glossy peak; it is currently unclear what badge, if any, the caps carried. Straw bonnets were also issued, almost certainly as summer wear, and these carried the grade - 'CONDUCTOR' - in block letters on a hat band (see below).

Women were also employed as tram conductresses during the Second World War, though only briefly, as the last tram ran on 29th June 1940. These ladies were issued with what appear to have been one-piece, full-length smocks, which were presumably worn over their own skirts and blouses; they were single-breasted with five buttons and lapels that bore 'H C T' metal initials on the right-hand side, and an employee number on the left-hand side. Headgear appears to have taken the form of a small beret, which was kept in place with a pin; this almost certainly carried the Huddersfield municipal shield badge. The use of the smocks and the beret is, to the best of my knowledge, unique amongst British and Irish tramway systems.

My thanks go to Stephen Howarth and Stephen Lockwood for photographs and background information.

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways horse tram
Horse Tram No 7 outside the Junction Hotel at Moldgreen - May 1885, no doubt at or shortly after the official inauguration of the service. All present are in smart but informal attire, a situation that doubtless also applied to staff working the steam services in the early years of the system. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Steam tram drivers and conductors
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways steam tram Lockwood
Kitson Steam Tram No 14 and crew (the driver is Earnest Pogson) on a Berry Brow service in Lockwood Road - photo undated, but possibly taken around the time this line was opened in June 1892. The conductor is dressed in informal attire, holding a brass fare collection box. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways steam tram Lockwood
An unidentified Kitson Steam Tram and crew on a Lockwood service in Norman Avenue - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1890s.


Huddersfield Corporation tramways Steam Tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, in single-breasted uniform jacket and kepi-style cap with what would appear to be an embroidered cap badge.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways steam tram
A number of tramway staff pose for the camera, possibly in Railway Street, with an unidentified steam tram on a service to Salendine Nook - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1890s. The driver and the fireman are wearing typical railway footplate-like attire.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways steam tram conductor
Blow-up of the above photo showing details of the conductor's uniform.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Steam Tram No 25
Huddersfield Steam tram No 25 (a Thomas Green & Sons product) in Bridge St, Lockwood Bar - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1890s.


Huddersfield Corporation STeam Tram No 25 and conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, once again, clearly wearing a uniform with a kepi-style cap.


Motormen and conductors
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 9 and crew circa 1901
Conductor and motorman, along with a postman (extreme left), pose with what appears to be a brand new Tramcar No 9, probably taken around the time that the Longwood route opened (25th February 1901). Both men are wearing kepi-style caps that bear a large oval cap badge, almost certainly brass.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 65 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 65 at an unidentified terminus on an Edgerton-Lindley service - photo undated, but probably early to mid-Edwardian (the wooden route boards seen on the side of the tram were dispensed with in 1907). Both men are wearing kepi-style caps.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 64 and crew
Conductor and motorman - both in double-breasted overcoats - pose with Tramcar No 64 on a service to Almondbury - photo undated, but definitely taken before 1912 as it has a Milnes-Voss top cover (not shown). Although the large oval cap badge is still in evidence, the caps are now in a more modern military style.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 52 and crew Longwood
A shot of Tramcar No 52 taken at the Longwood terminus - photo undated, but from the style of the passenger's clothing, probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Both men are wearing script-lettering grade badges and a small municipal shield device (see below) on their caps, and a new style of single-breasted jacket with upright collars. Source unknown.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 52 and crew
Tramcar No 52 again, this time on a service to Birkby - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. The motorman is wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic, whilst the conductor has the standard single-breasted jacket. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways motormen (tram drivers)
A studio portrait of three Huddersfield motormen. The individual on the left-hand side is Employee No 149, whereas the situation with the other two is unclear, as neither has a collar number. Photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. Author's collection.


Huddersfield Corporation Trmaways tram driver motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing Employee No 149 - a Huddersfield municipal shield badge appears on both epaulettes, as well as above his script-lettering grade badge.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges - Motorman and Conductor - of the type used by Huddersfield Corporation Tramways from the late Edwardian era onwards.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways epaulette badge
Huddersfield municipal shield badge - brass. This was worn on the jacket epaulettes, as well as on the cap.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 8 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 8 pose for the cameraman in Spaines Rd, Fartown - photo undated, but certainly taken after 1912 when the top cover shown here was fitted. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 56 and crew
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 56 on Service No 8 to Longwood - photo undated, but almost certainly taken in the early 1920s as this car was vestibuled between 1925 and 1930. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 70 and crew
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 70 outside Great Northern St tram depot - photo undated, but probably taken during the 1920s as this car was vestibuled in 1930. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Tram No 36 1924
The crew of what is probably a brand-new Tramcar No 136, dating the shot to 1924 or shortly thereafter, pose for the camera with a No 4 service. Author's collection.


Huddersfield Corporation Tram conductor and driver 1924
Blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman (Employee No 193) in more detail.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways tram crew
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 71 at Outlane Terrace on 29th September 1933. Photographer, Dr H Nicol. Their right-hand lapels bear 'H C T' initials, with employee numbers carried on the left-hand side. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways epaulette badge
Huddersfield municipal shield badge - chrome. This badge is probably the type worn on the jacket epaulettes during the 1930s.


Senior staff
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways steam era inspector
A blow-up of the 'Railway St' steam tram photo above, showing an individual who is in all probability an inspector, with pompom on his kepi, and an oval cap badge.


Huddersfield  Corporation Tramways Tramca No 13, crew and inspector
Inspector with the crew of Tramcar No 13 at the terminus at Outland - photo undated, but certainly taken no earlier than 1907 as the tram has destination boxes in the central saloon window (not shown). The inspector still has a kepi-style cap, even though the tramcar staff had by this time switched to the more modern style. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways inspectors
Two inspectors supervising Football Specials - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1930s. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.


Female staff
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress Ethel Dowson
Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Great War conductress. The back of the card carries the date '1918' and the name 'Ethel Dowson' and 'from Bessie'. Author's Collection.


Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing the grade, which is carried on a hat band. The straw bonnet was more than likely summer wear, with a felt bonnet or cap being substituted during the colder months.


Huddersfield tramway conductresses 1940
A group of conductresses photographed on 1st July 1940, some two days after the last tram ran. They appear to be wearing one-piece, button-up smocks and berets. The General Manager (H C Godsmark) is on the extreme right, with the Traffic Manager on the extreme left. With thanks to Stephen Lockwood.