Ipswich Corporation Tramways
Ipswich Corporation took over the horse tram operations of the erstwhile Ipswich Tramway Company in November 1901, and continued to run horse-drawn services up until June 1903. Photographs which are incontestably from this era appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to state whether the corporation chose to issue uniforms to the men working these services, or whether it merely continued the policy of its predecessor, which was to have drivers and conductors wear informal but smart attire.
Staff working the new electric services were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five brass buttons, bearing the system title and Ipswich arms (see link) and upright collars; the latter bore an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side (in individual brass numerals) and system initials on the right-hand side (in individual brass letters). Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and bore 'off-the-shelf' brass grade badges, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor'. The uniforms remained unchanged right through to the closure of the system in 1926. Tramcar crews were also issued with double-breasted great coats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes (with button fasteners) and high, fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried any insignia.
Inspectors initially wore typical tramway inspector garb, i.e. single-breasted jackets edged in a finer material than the main jacket, with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair), and upright collars; the latter almost certainly bore ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering on both sides. Headgear took the form of a kepi-style cap which bore the grade - 'Inspector' - probably in embroidered script lettering. At some point prior to the Great War, the jackets were changed to a rather distinctive single-breasted design with plain buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures), pleats, epaulettes (with button fasteners) and upright collars; the latter definitely bore embroidered system initials - 'ICT' - on the bearer's right-hand side, and in all probability on the left-hand side too. Caps were probably changed at the same time to a military style with a tensioned crown; these bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering, on a hat band.
In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, Ipswich employed women during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. The ladies were issued with long, tailored, single-breasted jackets with two large hip-level pockets, pleats, a waist belt and high, fold-over collars; the latter bore a staff number on the bearer's left-hand side (in individual brass numerals) and system initials - 'I C T' - on the right-hand side (in brass letters). The style of the uniform jacket was subtly altered at some point through the addition of a pocket on the bearer's right breast (with button closure) and epaulettes (with button fasteners). Summer headgear took the form of a straw bonnet upon which a script-lettering grade badge - 'Conductor' - was worn; this was mounted on a hat band. In winter, waterproof bonnets were worn; these carried the usual brass, script-lettering grade badge.
Motormen and conductors
Probably the entire uniformed tramway staff assembled at Constantine Rd depot - photo undated, but possibly taken to mark the inauguration of services in 1903. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
A fine studio portrait of an Ipswich Corporation Tramways conductor - photo undated, but very probably taken around the time electric services began (1903). His left-hand collar is plain, suggesting that employee numbers had not yet been issued. Author's collection.
The crew of Tramcar No 3 pictured at what may be Whitton, with a service for Norwich Rd and Derby Rd - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
General pattern script-lettering cap badges - 'Motorman' and 'Conductor' - of the type used by Ipswich Corporation Tramways - brass.
ICT motorman (Employee No 2) - from a photographic postcard dated 4th July 1918. The subject was almost certainly discharged from the army after being wounded, as he has a Silver War Badge on his right breast, as well as a medal ribbon on his left. The small round badge on his cap is probably a personal adornment, perhaps military in origin. The message on the back of the postcard reads “To George Knight with my very best and sincerest wishes and the best of luck. From your old and sincere Pal, Alex, Ipswich 4/7/18”.
ICT Employee Number No 86, Conductor Terry Maile - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s. The text on the reverse of the photo reads “Mr. Terry Maile of 55, Ranelagh Road, Ipswich in the old double breaster uniform as was worn for many years on the old trams and trolleys, up to the present day open neck tunic being introduced.” With thanks to Ipswich Transport Museum (see link).
The crew of Tramcar No 33 pose for the cameraman at what may be Lattice Barn with a Route 3 service (Lattice Barn to Ipswich Railway Station) - photo undated, but certainly taken after 1922 when route indicators were introduced. Both men are wearing double-breasted overcoats. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
ICT cash bag buckle - brass. Photo courtesy of Ipswich Transport Museum (see link).
A blow-up of the depot photo above - probably taken in 1903, and showing a group of inspectors. They are wearing typical tramway 'inspector' garb, with kepi-style caps.
An individual who is probably, but not certainly, an Ipswich Corporation Tramways inspector - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s or 1930s (the latter of course post-dating the demise of the tramway). The uniform is quite an unusual design, and has the distinctive breast pleats seen in other photos, both of inspectors and Great War conductresses (see above), so the attribution seems reasonably sound. Author's collection.
Conductress Mary Ann Lambert (Employee No 121) - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Miss Lambert was born in Lavenham, Suffolk on 13th July 1892, her family later moving to 38 Friars St, Ipswich. With thanks to Ipswich Transport Museum (see link).
A blow-up of the above photo, which is so sharp, even the buttons can be positively identified.
A group of Ipswich Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses at Constantine Rd depot.
Another Constantine Rd depot shot - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Although similar to the uniform in the preceding photos, the jacket now has a pocket on the bearer's right breast, as well as epaulettes. The photograph was presumably taken in winter, as the hats are all waterproof bonnets.