Hill of Howth Tramway

Summary
Photographs of staff from the first decade of operation are unfortunately rare, so it is not possible to say with absolute certainty what uniforms were worn. It would however appear that both motormen and conductors were issued with double-breasted jackets with plain non-metallic buttons and lapels, the latter being devoid of insignia. Caps were in a kepi style and bore embroidered 'G N R' script initials. The cap may also have born a grade, though this cannot be made out on surviving photographs.

At some point, probably shortly before of during the Great War, new uniforms were introduced. These comprised double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons, almost certainly standard brass GNRI issues (see link) and lapels; the latter carried the bearer's grade on both sides: 'Conductor' or 'Motorman'. Caps were now in a more modern soft-topped style redolent of railway practice; they bore embroidered 'G N R' block initials and were piped around the circumference of the crown (top). Motormen and conductors were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with lapels; these garments bore no insignia.

The uniform was changed again sometime around the 1940s, and though still double-breasted, they now had a more modern cut with two rows of four buttons, the top row being buttoned through the lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) continued to carry the bearer's grade in embroidered script-lettering, though seemingly with 'Driver' occasionaly being used in place place of 'Motorman'. The sleeve cuffs were also embellished with three buttons on each side. The caps were changed once again, probably in the 1940s, to a smarter military style with a wide tensioned crown; these new caps carried a one-piece brass 'GNRI' blocklettering cap badge, which superseded its embroidered predecessor. Although the uniform jackets remained unchanged - stylistically - from this time through to closure, there was clearly some variation in the collar insignia, with photographs showing examples without insignia, with the normal embroidered grades, as well as embroidered block-lettering 'G N R' initials. Photographs have also survived which confirm that a few members of staff - at least - swapped their GNRI cap badges for the new Coras Iompair Eireann 'Flying Snail' cap badge during the last eight months or so of the system's life, following its transfer to the state-owned transport body (CIE).

As the Hill of Howth Tramway was operated by a railway company, tramway inspectors were not employed, the company instead relying on tramcar staff, station masters and the occasional visiting senior official. A single photograph has however survived of a more senior member of staff taken on a special occasion some time before the Great War; he is wearing a single-breasted jacket with cloth-covered buttons, and high, fold-over collars; the jacket edges, collars and cuffs are all embellished with material of a finer quality than the main jacket. The collars bear the grade, which is unfortunately not clear enough to make out on this photograph. The cap was in the same style as those worn by tramcar staff, but with the addition of a light-coloured hat band, which may possibly have borne a grade.

As far as I am aware, female staff were never employed on the Hill of Howth Tramways.

For a history of the tramway, see: 'The Hill of Howth Tramway' by R C Flewitt; Transport Research Associates (1968). For a pictorial history, see ' Trams to the Hill of Howth' by Jim Kilroy; Colourpoint Books (1998). For an overview of the Irish tram scene, including the Hill of Howth, see 'Irish Trams' by James Kilroy; Colourpoint Books (1996).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Hill of Howth Decorated Tram No 1 and crew
Although this photo of a decorated tram at Howth Station purportedly depicts a tram decorated to celebrate the armistice of 1918, the style of the uniforms, and the condition of the tram and track bed suggest that it may well be much earlier. Author's Collection.


Hill of Howth Tram conductor pre Great War
A blow-up of the above photo showing an individual who is in all probability the conductor. He is wearing a double-breasted jacket with plain buttons (undone) and lapels (i.e. devoid of insignia). His cap is a kepi which bears 'GNR' script lettering. The fact that his jacket is undone and there is no sign of a cash bag, suggests that the tram was on a special duty and not taking fee-paying passengers.


Hill of Howth motorman - pre Great War
Another blow up of the above photo, this time showing the motorman. He is in the same style of uniform as the conductor, though there is a hint that his cap may bear a grade.


Hill of Howth tram conductor and motorman
A Hill of Howth tramcar crew captured at Summit at the end of, or shortly after, the Great War. By this time, the earlier uniforms had clearly been superseded by a new style, comprising a double-breasted jacket with lapels, the upper part of which (i.e. the collars), carried the bearer's grade in embroidered script lettering. The length of the script-lettering on the motorman's collars suggests that the grade is 'Motorman' rather than 'Driver'. The old kepi-style caps had also been replaced by a more modern soft-topped cap, very much in the railway style; the new cap bore system initials - 'G N R' in embroidered block letters. The tramcar appears to carry a much darker livery that that first used, possibly, though not certainly, the all-over grained mahogany scheme introduced during or shortly after the Great War. The conductor would appear to be Jack Graham (see below), looking a little younger than in the photos which follow, whilst his motorman is probably John Holland. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum (see link).


Hill of Howth Tram conductor Jack Graham circa 1930
Conductor Jack Graham captured on the rear platform of a tramcar that carries the Oxford Blue and Cream livery introduced in the early 1930s, so the photo was in all probability taken in that decade. The image is so sharp that even the Great Northern Railway of Ireland buttons on his overcoat can be easily made out. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howth Tram conductor Jack Graham circa 1930
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap, with embroidered 'G N R' initials.


Hill of Howth Tram conductor Jack Graham circa 1930
A second photo of Conductor Graham, which was very probably taken on the same day as the preceding shot. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howth tram conductor Jack Graham
Jack Graham again, but this time showing him in the standard-issue jacket, which has his grade - 'Conductor' - embroidered on the collars. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howth Tramway motorman and conductor with Tram No 6
Motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 6, photo undated, but possibly taken in the late 1930s or 1940s. Both men are wearing standard soft-topped peaked caps with embroidered 'G N R' initials. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howth tram drivers
Motormen Billy Rankin (sitting) and Tom Redmond (standing) posing for the cameraman during decoration of a Hill of Howth tramcar (almost certainly No 3), which was something of an christmas tradition on the line - photo thought to have been taken around 1954. The collars bear the men's grades, in both cases 'Driver' rather than 'Motorman'. Billy Rankin has a soft-topped cap with embroidered 'G N R' lettering, whilst Tom Redmond has a military-style cap with a tensioned crown (top) and a brass 'GNRI' cap badge. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howath Tramway cap badge brass
Great Northern Railway of Ireland brass cap badge, as worn by staff of the Hill of Howth Tramway from around the 1940s through to closure. Author's Collection.


Hill of Howth Motorman Dick McGlue and Conductor Pat O'Dowd
Motorman Dick McGlue and Conductor Pat O'Dowd pose for the cameraman in the interior of their tramcar - photo probably taken in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum.


Hill of Howth tram drivers 1958
A group of four Hill of Howth motormen captured in what is probably late 1958 or early 1959, i.e. in Coras Iompair Eireann days. From left to right, they are: Tommy 'Rubberneck' Whelan, Peter Shiels, Christy Hanway (known as the 'Manager', as his main duties were in the depot) and Billy Rankin. Although the jackets are all of the same cut, those to the left bear block 'G N R' initials on the collars, whereas those on the right bear the grade, in both cases, 'Motorman'. Another difference is the caps, with soft-topped and tensioned-crown varieties on display. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum


Hill of Howth tram drivers 1958
A blow-up of the above photo showing Christy Hanway and Billy Rankin, the former wearing the standard GNRI cap badge and the latter, the new CIE cap badge, affectionately known as the 'Flying Snail'.


CIE Cap Badgechrome
A CIE cap badge - chrome. This pattern of cap badge was worn by some tramcar staff during the last 9 months of so of the system's life. It is however unclear what material was actually in use at this time. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Motormen and conductors
Hill of Howth Tram inspector pre Great War
A blow-up of the pre-Great War (probably) photo above, showing an individual who is almost certainly a senior GNRI official. In contrast to the tramcar staff, he is wearing a single-breasted jacket with what appear to be cloth-covered buttons, and wide fold-over collars; the latter bear embroidered insignia of some description, very probably his grade. The jacket edges, collars and cuffs are all embellished with material of a finer quality than the main jacket. The kepi-style cap carries the same embroidered 'script-lettering 'G N R' badge as the tramcar staff, but with a hat band of a light colour beneath it. This may also have borne his grade, though this cannot be made out on the photograph. This photo captures what was clearly a special occasion, so his presence should probably not be seen as representative of normal HoHT practice.