Ilkeston Corporation Tramways

Several photographs taken on the opening day clearly show staff wearing informal attire, but with script-lettering grade badges on their own informal caps, suggesting that uniforms had yet to be delivered. Uniforms, when they did arrive, took the form of double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter carried individual 'I C T' initials on the bearer's right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side. The uniforms were of grey serge with red piping; the pattern of button is unclear, but as marked 'tramway' buttons are unknown, it is possible that a standard brass municipal button was used (see link). Caps were in a kepi style and carried standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges — either Motorman or Conductor — possibly brass, above which an oval badge of unknown pattern was worn, probably some kind of municipal device.

At some point, probably in the late Edwardian era, conductors jackets were changed to a single-breasted design with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures), upright collars and epaulettes (again with button closures). The collars probably bore the same insignia as previously, though photographs do not allow this to be stated with certainty. Although a single photograph has survived that shows a motorman in the same style of jacket, this was taken in 1917, so it may in fact have been the result of wartime expediency rather than official policy. The kepi-style caps were also replaced, very probably at the same time (i.e., the late Edwardian era), by a more modern military style of cap with a tensioned crown (top); these new caps continued to bear the same badges as the kepis they superseded. The oval cap badges appear to have been dispensed with some time before the Great War, leaving the script-lettering grade badge as the sole cap adornment.

Following the 1916 take-over by the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Tramways Company, uniform policy appears to have broadly followed that of the N&DTCo i.e. single-breasted jackets for conductors and 'lancer-style' tunics for motormen. More modern single-breasted jackets (with lapels) were certainly introduced for conductors some time before closure, and may well have been used for motormen too, though this cannot be discerned on surviving photographs as the subjects are always in greatcoats. The military-style caps were also superseded, presumably at the same time, by soft-topped caps with glossy peaks — these new caps continued to carry the same script-lettering grade badges as their predecessors.

Motormen and conductors were also issued with heavy-duty, double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; like the tunics worn underneath, the collars initially carried individual 'I C T' initials on the bearer's right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side, though this practice seems to have lapsed in later years.

Inspectors initially wore single-breasted jackets with lapels; the collars appear to have borne metal 'I C T' system initials on the bearer's right-hand side, with the left-hand side left plain. Caps were in a kepi-style and bore the same oval cap badge worn by tramcar crews, but with a script-lettering grade badge — Inspector — beneath, which photographs again suggest was metal, in contrast to the overwhelming majority of UK tramway systems, which used embroidered insignia for senior staff.

In common with most UK tramway operators, Ilkeston employed female staff (as conductresses) during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were certainly issued with jackets and long matching skirts, though precisely what form the jackets took is unknown, as surviving photographs only show them in long single-breasted greatcoats with prominent buttons and high, fold-over collars, the latter being devoid of insignia. Headgear took the form of a baggy cap with a stiff glossy peak; these bore standard, 'off-the-shelf' script-lettering Conductor badges.

For a history of the tramway, see: 'Ilkeston Tramways - Derbyshire's First Electric Tramway' by Barry M Marsden; The Ilkeston and District Local History Society (2002).


Motormen and conductors
Ilkeston Corporation Tramways Tram No 3 1903
Tramcar No 5 stands outside the depot, in pristine condition and bedecked for the opening ceremony — photo undated, but more than likely taken on the morning of the 16th May 1903. Photo courtesy of the Barry Marsden Collection.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways tram crew 1903
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, both of whom are wearing, with the sole exception of script-lettering grade badges, informal attire. Uniforms were presumably late in arriving, an astonishing fact given that the trams had been waiting around for many months for the electricity supply to finally be switched on.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways staff photo circa 1903
Probably the entire operating staff, together with various officials and local luminaries, pose for a formal shot outside the tramcar depot in Park Road — photo undated, but probably taken following delivery of the uniforms, almost certainly in the summer of 1903. There are eight motormen, eight conductors and two inspectors. Photo courtesy of the Barry Marsden Collection.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways staff 1903
A blow-up of the above photo showing a conductor (top) and two motormen. The kepi-style caps carry script-lettering grade badges and an oval badge of unknown pattern; the 'I C T' collar initials are easily made out.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways conductor
Another blow-up of the staff photo above, this time showing two conductors (back) and two motormen. The subject in the middle is one of the few depicted who is not wearing a greatcoat, thus revealing his 'lancer-style' tunic. The employee numbers on the bearers' left-hand collars (of both tunics and overcoats) are also easily made out.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges — Motorman and Conductor — brass, of the type used by Ilkeston Corporation Tramways. It is however unclear whether Ilkeston used brass or nickel badges.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways Tram No 4 at Cotmanhay
The crew of Tramcar No 4 captured at the terminus at Cotmanhay - although undated, the General Manager's name on the rocker panel would appear to be 'L F Bellamy', which would date the photo to between 1913 and 1916. Author's Collection.

Ilkeston Tram No 4 , conductor and motorman Cotmanhay
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, the former in single-breasted jacket with upright collars and the latter in a double-breasted greatcoat. Both men are wearing military-style caps with script-lettering grade badges, but no oval badge above.

Senior staff
Ilkeston Corporation Trmaways inspector 1903
A blow-up of the staff photo above showing one of the inspectors. Somewhat unusually for a UK tramway system, his script-lettering grade badge would appear to be metal (possibly brass), as opposed to the embroidered hat bands frequently used on other systems.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways inspector cap badge
Script-lettering grade badge of the type probably worn by Ilkeston inspectors, at least during the early years — brass.

Female staff
Ilkeston Corporation Tramways Great War No 8
The crew of a rather neglected-looking Tramcar No 8 pose for the cameraman at Cotmanhay in 1917. Author's Collection.

Ilkeston Corporation Tramways Great War conductress
A blow up of the above photo showing the conductress in single-breasted coat, and with a baggy cap with a glossy peak.