Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways

Summary
Early photographs indicate that tramcar staff wore double-breasted 'lancer style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (bearing the full company name around a plain centre - see link) and upright collars; the latter carried system initials - 'I T T' - in individual brass letters on the left-hand side, and probably on the right-hand side too, though these cannot be made out on surviving photographs. Caps were in a soft-topped railway style and bore a large oval cap badge with the bearer's grade and an employee number, probably surrounded by the company name; 'Motorman' is known (from photographs), and 'Conductor' presumably existed too. The caps appear to have been changed in the mid-Edwardian era to a militray style with a tensioned crown (top), the cap badge however, remaining the same.

During or shortly before the Great War, a switch appears to have been made to single-breasted jackets with upright collars; the latter presumably bore the same insignia as the previous tunics, though confirmation must await further photographic evidence.

A final change in uniform appears to have been made in the mid 1920s, possibly around 1924 when the company name was changed to the Isle of Thanet Electric Supply Company. Motormen and conductors were now issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and lapels; the latter carried 'I T T' initials on the bearer's right-hand side, though not apparently on the left-hand side. The large oval cap badge was replaced by a small enamel, shield-shaped badge bearing the owning company initials - I T E S Co - above an employee number.

Tramcar staff were also issued with overcoats, though it is currently unclear whether or not they bore company insignia of any kind.

Photographs of inspectors are rare, but those that have survived, indicate that they wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and with a slit breast pocket and upright collars; the latter probably carried the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be amde out with certainty on surviving photographs. Caps were military in style (at least after the Edwardian era), and probably carried the bearer's grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering.

In common with the vast majority of British tramway systems, the ITETCo employed female staff during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, high fold-over collars, a waist belt with button fastening, and long, matching skirts. Photographs indicate that individual 'I T T' intiials were worn on the collars. Baggy caps were also worn, which bore the same oval cap badge worn by male tramcar staff.

Images

Motormen and conductors
Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways motorman driver No 54
A studio portrait of Employee No 54, an Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways motorman - photo undated, but probably taken in the early Edwardian era. The large oval cap badge is probably in enamelled. With thanks to Richard Rosa.


Isle of Thanet Tramways staff photo at St Peters depot
A staff photo taken at St Peters' Depot - photo undated, but probably taken between 1911 and 1916, given the presence of tramcar destination enamels on the top deck, which were only used in this form from 1911 through to the Great War. Of the uniformed tramwaymen, 64 are wearing double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics, one man has a single-breasted jacket (with upright collars), and three men have single-breasted jackets (with lapels). The remaining four uniformed personnel would appear to be inspectors. One of those present is wearing a kepi-style cap. Photo with kind permission of Martyn Jolly, whose great grandfather worked at St Peters Depot after being invalided out of the army in 1916.


Isle of Thanet Tramways conductors and tram drivers
A blow-up of the above photo showing some of the staff. Most of those depicted are wearing double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics and military-style caps. The two gentleman on the top right are wearing single-breasted jackets and waistcoats; it is unclear whether these uniforms signify that the wearer held a different grade to the other men.


Isle of Thanet Tramways black employee
Yet another blow-up of the staff photo, showing a gentleman, wearing a trilby, who appears to be of african extraction. This is in fact the only photo of a British Tramway system that I am aware of, which clearly shows a tramwayman of non-European origin.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways Tram No 42 and crew
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 42 on a Top Rd working - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1920s given that this vehicle was fully vestibuled and converted to one-man operation (as shown here) in the early 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways Tram No 45 and conductor
Another Top Rd car converted for one-man operation, this time No 45, together with conductor in single-breasted jacket - photo undated, but once again probably taken around the mid 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways tram crew 1928
The crew of an unidentified tramcar at the Westbrook terminus - photo undated, but possibly taken in 1928. The conductor is wearing informal attire, and may be a member of the depot staff providing cover (a common occurence in summer). Photograph by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways tram crew 1928
Another view taken at the Westbrook terminus, probably on the same day as the preceding shot. This time even the motorman, assuming the figure on the right is indeed the motorman, appears to be in informal attire. Photograph by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways conductor 1928
ITT conductor poses with Tramcar No 3 for the camera of Dr H Nicol on 9th December 1928. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


sle of Thanet Electric Supply Company badges trams
Isle of Thanet Electric Supply Company cap badges - these were probably worn from 1924 onwards when the Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways and Lighting Company changed its name to the Isle of Thanet Electric Supply Company (ITESCo). Given the high numbers on the two badges above, it seems highly probable that the ITESCo issued these badges to all its staff (whether employed in the tramway, bus or electricity supply departments), with the colours possibly denoting the different departments.


Isle of Thanet Electric Supply Company employee number badge
Isle of Thanet Electric Supply Company badge - plain brass. Author's collection.


Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways tram No 22 and crew
A depot shot of the crew of Tramcar No 22 - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s or 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice


Senior staff
Isle of Thent Tramways tramway inspector
A blow-up of the St Peters Depot staff photo above showing two individuals (back row, right) who are, in all probability, inspectors.


Female staff
Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways Great War conductresses
Two photos of ITT Great War conductresses. The lady who is standing appears to be the same person in both photographs; in the right-hand photo she is clearly wearing the standard oval cap badge. Photo courtesy of Richard Rosa.