Leith Corporation Tramways

Summary
Leith Corporation took over the last remaining routes of the once mighty Edinburgh Street Tramways Company on the 23rd October 1904, and continued to operate horse-drawn services for just over a year. The men working these services were issued with new uniforms: conductors wore single-breasted jackets with lapels, whilst drivers appear to have worn double-breasted 'lancer' style tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars. It is currently unclear whether the uniforms bore insignia of any kind. Caps were soft-topped and mililtary in style, and bore the system initials - 'L C T' - in individual metal letters, almost certainly brass.

Horse tram crews were also issued with long, double-breasted, heavy duty overcoats with high fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried any badges.

Staff working the newly inaugurated electric services were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer' style tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom and bearing the system title and municipal device - see link) and upright collars; the latter carried 'L C T' initials on both sides in individual metal letters, almost certainly brass. Caps were in the military style with a glossy peak and wide top (crown), and initially bore the system initials - 'L C T' - in brass letters, though these were soon replaced by a shield-shaped brass cap badge comprising the Leith municipal device with the full system title in a ribbon underneath.

Inspectors were initially issued with heavy double-breasted jackets with lapels that bore their grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. At some point these were superseded by a smarter design, though it remained double-breasted with two rows of four buttons (plain) and with lapels bearing the grade in embroidered script lettering. Caps were initially in the same soft-topped style as those issued to horse car crews, though whether or not they carried a badge is currently unclear; they were replaced - probably at the commencement of electric services - by military-style caps which bore a hat band with the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. Inspectors also wore long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of four buttons (plain) and lapels; the upper portion of the lapels (the collars) bore 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering.

Leith also appears to have employed one or two Chief Inspectors - a photo which probably depicts such an individual, shows him wearing a long, tailored, double-breasted coat with two rows of four buttons and lapels; the latter bears his grade in embroidered script lettering, The cap is identical to those worn by inspectors, with the hat band appearing to bear a two-line grade in embroidered script lettering, very probably 'Chief Inspector'.

In common with many UK tramway operators, Leith employed female staff in significant numbers during the Great War - both as motorwomen (called motoresses in Leith) and conductresses - to replace men lost to the armed services. Although several photographs have survived, the ladies depicted in all of them are wearing long, double-breasted overcoats with high, fold-over collars (devoid of insignia), so details of the uniform worn beneath remain, for the moment, unknown. Headgear comprised a rather ugly looking, dark-coloured straw bonnet with a hat band bearing the standard municipal tramways cap badge; one photo appears to show a motorwoman wearing a baggy cap, so it is possible that ladies driving the trams wore these rather than the bonnets worn by the conductresses.

My thanks go to Alan Brotchie for providing many of the photographs and much of the background information.

For a history of the Leith Corporation Tramways, see: 'Edinburgh's Transport - Volume 1, The Early Years' by D L G Hunter; The Mercat Press (1992).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Leith Corporation horse tram at the foot of Restalrig Road
An undentified horse car, still in Edinburgh Street Tramways Company livery, at the foot of Restalrig Road - photo undated, but probably taken in the last week of operation, possibly on the last day (2nd November 1905).


Leith Corporation Tramways horse tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo. The conductor is wearing a single-breasted jacket with lapels, whilst his colleague appears to be wearing a double-breasted 'lancer' style tunic. Both men are wearing soft-topped caps.


Leith Corporation Tramways crews Shrubhill Depot
A group of Leith tramcar staff, very probably horsecar crews, seated in front of a newly delivered electric tram outside the new electric depot - photo undated, but almost certainly taken in 1905.


Leith Corporation Tramways horse tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the tramcar staff. The cap badge is simply made up of 'L C T' initials, either a stop-gap measure until the municipal tramways badge was available, or a conscious decision not to issue the latter to staff working the horse car services.


Motormen and conductors
Leith Corporation Tramways electric tram staff 1909
A photo that was probably taken to show staff in their new uniforms, presumably delivered for the inauguration of electric services in 1905. Although the uniforms are in pristine condition, the new municipal cap badge appears not to have arrived, as all those present are wearing 'L C T' initials on their caps.


Leith Corporation Trawmays Tram No 5 at Seafield terminus in 1908
The crew of Tramcar No 5 sporting new cap badges - photo taken in Newhaven at the foot of Craighall Road in November 1906.


Leith Corporation Tramways cap badge
Leith Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass


Leith Corporation Tramways Tram No 13 and crew
Conductor and motorman pose for the camera with Tramcar No 13 at Granton Square, dating the photograph to around 1909 (the line was opened in May that year).


Leith Corporation Tramways Tram No 1 and driver
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 1 at Pilrig some time prior to the Great War.


Leith Corporation Tramways depot photo circa 1920
In all likelihood, the entire staff of Leith Corporation Tramways assembled at the depot - photo undated, but probably taken to mark the end of Leith as a separate system, following its absorption into Edinburgh Corporation Tramways in late 1920.


Leith Corporation Tramways crew circa 1921
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 266 (an ex Leith vehicle, but with its new Edinburgh Corporation number), with the crew still in Leith Corporation Tramways uniforms - photo undated, but probably taken in 1921.


Senior staff
Leith Corporation Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the horse tram staff photo above, showing an inspector. The collars of his jacket bear his grade - 'Inspector - in embroidered script lettering; the situation with his cap is unclear.


Leith Corporation Tramways inspectors
A blow up of the 1920 staff photo above showing two of the inspectors. The jackets are a finer and more modern cut than those used previously, though still double breasted.


Leith Corporation Tramways Inspector
Leith Corporation Tramways inspector - taken from the photo depicting the crew of Tramcar No 266 above, i.e. shortly after the take-over by Edinburgh Corporation.


Leith Corporation Tramways Chief Inspector
Another blow-up of the 1920 staff photo, this time showing an individual who is, in all probability, a Chief Inspector.


Female staff
Leith Corporation Tramways female staff 1917
A group of Leith Corporation Tramways ladies (probably conductresses) pose for the camera with Mark IV tank 'Julian' at the 'Fit o' the Walk' in Leith, some time between Wednesday 23rd and Saturday 26th January 1918. 'Julian' toured many cities and towns in Scotland as a 'Tank Bank', getting people to invest in War Bonds and other government saving schemes. Thanks to Alan Brotchie for identifying the location.


Leith Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductresses and motoresses
A blow-up of the above photo showing three of the ladies. The bonnets were probably straw with a waterproof coating; one wonders what the ladies thought of them, as they can not exactly be described as stylish.


Leith Corporation Tramways Great War female crew
A Leith conductress and motorwoman (called motoresses in Leith) aboard an unidentified tram - photo undated, but certainly taken in the Great War or shortly afterwards. The motorwoman appears to be wearing a baggy cap rather than the straw bonnet worn by her colleague.


Leith Corporation Tramways conductress and motorman Great War
Motorman and conductress aboard an almost unidentifiable tram, possibly No 36, at the Seafield terminus - photo undated, but given the War Savings poster, possibly taken in January 1918.