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 caps, suggesting that uniforms had yet to be delivered. Uniforms eventually did arrive, and 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 button pattern is unclear, but as marked buttons are unknown, it is possible that a standard brass municipal button was worn (see link). Caps were in the kepi style and carried standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - probably brass to match the buttons, above which was worn an oval badge of unknown pattern, possibly some kind of municipal device.

At some point, probably in the Edwardian era, conductors uniforms were changed to a single-breasted jacket 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 discerned. A single photograph has survived that shows a motorman in the same style of jacket, but as this was clearly taken in 1917, it may have been a wartime expediency rather than company policy. The kepi-style caps were also replaced, very probably at the same time, by a more modern military style of cap; these new caps bore the same badges as previously.

Motormen and conductors were also issued with heavy-duty, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; like the tunics worn underneath, the collars carried individual 'I C T' initials on the bearer's right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side.

Following the 1916 take-over by the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Tramways Company, the oval cap badge was quickly dispensed with, supporting the argument that it was a municipal badge. From then on, uniform policy appears to have broadly followed that of the N&DTCo (single-breasted jackets for conductors and 'lancer-style' tunics for motormen), though in all probability more modern jackets (with lapels) were issued before the final closure.

Inspectors initially wore single-breasted jackets with lapels; the collars appear to have borne 'I C T' metal initials on the bearer's right-hand side, with nothing on the left. Caps were in the kepi-style and bore the same round cap badge worn by tramcar crews, but with a script-lettering grade badge beneath, which photographs suggest was metal, rather than being embroidered, as was the practice on the overwhelming majority of UK tramway systems.

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 overcoats 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 summer 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 an overcoat, thus revealing his 'lancer-style' tunic underneath. The employee numbers on the bearers' left-hand collars (of both tunics and overcoats) are 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.

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 is clearly metal (presumably brass), rather than the almost ubiquitously used embroidered hat band.

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 overcoat, and with a baggy cap with a glossy peak.