Leicester Tramways Company

Summary
The Leicester Tramways Company operated horse-drawn trams for just over half a century, from 1874 through to the municipal take-over of 1901. In common with the majority of horse tramway operators in the UK, company drivers wore informal but smart attire - trousers, jackets, waistcoats, shirts and ties. Headgear appears to have largely followed the fashion of the day, predominantly the bowler hat, though later on, flat caps and straw boaters also made an appearance; no badges of any kind were worn on either the jackets or the hats.

Conductors on the other hand appear to have worn short jackets and kepi-style caps; the coats do not appear to have carried any insignia, and were probably not formal issues (different styles are seen in photographs, implying that they were purchased by the employee). In the early days, the caps were tall and rigid, rather like Victorian postmen's kepis, but later on they were soft-topped and noticeably smaller in profile. It is currently impossible to say whether the caps carried any badges, though surviving photos would suggest not.

Both drivers and conductors wore round licences suspended from their jackets by a leather strap; the licences were made of brass and carried the full company title and a grade around the outside ('Driver' is known, and presumably 'Conductor' existed too), with a number in the centre.

Photographs of inspectors are unknown, and it is entirely possible, though by no means certain, that the LTCo never employed them.

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

Images

Drivers and conductors
Leicester Tramways Company horse tram 1874
A very early shot, circa 1875, of a Leicester horse tram at the Belgrave terminus. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leicester Tramways Company horse tram 1874
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew in a little more detail. The conductor is wearing a tall cap, probably issued by the company, whilst the driver has the standard horseman's tall bowler hat.


Leicester Tramways Company horse tram
An unidentified horse car with driver (left) and two conductors - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1880s or early 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leicester Tramways Company horse tram
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver (with a small boy alongside him on the stairs, no doubt his son) and the two conductors; the other individual may well be a driver, meaning that two crews are depicted. Whilst the driver on the platform is wearing the tall bowler of the period, both the conductors are wearing soft-topped kepis; all three are also wearing licences suspended from their jacket buttons.


Leicester Tramways Company tram conductor's licence
Horse tramway driver's licence - brass. John Burford Collection.