Leyton District Council Tramways

Summary
Leyton Urban District Council operated horse tram services for just over three years following its take-over of the Lea Bridge, Leyton and Walthamstow Tramways Company (as well as North Metropolitan Tramways services in its area). In common with the majority of horse tramways in the UK, drivers simply wore heavy duty informal attire - trousers, jackets, shirt and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, the near ubiquitous bowler hat. In the first few months following the take-over of the LBL&WTCo, it seems likely that conductors continued to wear the informal attire and kepi-style caps that were probably issued by the erstwhile company. Uniforms were however eventually issued by the council, and seem to have been identical to those worn by conductors working on the electric tramcars (see below).

Staff working the new electric services were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of buttons (bearing the council's name and a shield containing three swords - see link), epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars. The latter bore an employee number on the bearer's right-hand side, preceded by what seems to have been a municipal shield badge, presumably identical in form to the one borne on the buttons, whilst the left-hand side probably bore the system initials - 'L D C T' - in individual metal letters. The uniform was of blue serge and red piping, and all badges were almost certainly brass to match the buttons. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top), and bore standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - above which was worn a small municipal shield badge. Tramcar crews were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with high, fold-over collars; other than the buttons, these do not appear to have carried any insignia. The uniforms do not appear to have been changed - stylistically - right through to the take-over of services (in 1921) by London County Council Tramways, though photographic evidence is somewhat sparse, so a degree of caution needs to be exercised.

Motormen and conductors always appeared in service with a Metropolitan Public Service Vehicle badges (see link), usually worn on the left breast.

Leyton also appears to have employed the services of young lads, possibly as either Points Boys or Parcels Boys; a surviving photograph indicates that these young men were issued with identical uniforms to tramcar crews, but with 'L D C T' in individual brass letters on the cap, rather than the usual script-lettering grade badge.

Photographs of inspectors are yet to come to light, so it is currently impossible to state what uniforms they wore.

In common with many UK tramway operators, Leyton employed female staff in significant numbers during the Great War - as conductresses - to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt, two hip pockets and a breast pocket (on the left), epaulettes and upright collars; the latter bore 'L D C T' above 'CONDUCTOR' in embroidered block letters on both sides. A matching skirt was worn, along with a waterproof, s'wester-style bonnet; the latter bore an oval badge, probably cloth and containing the grade - 'CONDUCTOR' - and probably the system initials ('L D C T'), all in embroidered lettering.

For a history of the system, see: 'The Tramways of East London' by Rodinglea; The Tramway & Light Railway Society and The Light Railway Transport League (1967).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Leyton Urban District Council horse tram 1906
LUDC Clapton-Bakers Arms horse tram captured at the depot in 1906. Whilst the conductor is wearing a uniform, the driver is in informal attire with bowler hat. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Leyton UDC Tramways horse tram conductor 1906
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor in modern 'lancer-style' tunic and military-style cap.


Leyton conductor's cap badge
Script-lettering grade badge of the pattern worn by Leyton UDC Tramways horse tram conductors.


Motormen and conductors
Leyton UDC Tramways Tram No 57 and crew
Leyton District Council Tramways Tramcar No 57 - photo undated, but judging by the pristine condition of the tram, very probably taken in the year it was delivered, 1907. The full system title on the tram is 'Leyton District Council Tramways' whereas the horse trams had simply been emblazoned with 'L.U.D.C'. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Leyton UDC Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the man holding the tramcar controller and brake handle, who actually turns out to be the conductor. His right-hand collar bears his employee number, preceded by what is more than likely a Leyton municipal shield badge.


Leyton UDC Tramways Tram driver
The motorman of Tramcar No 57. Unfortunately, the number on his PSV 'Mechanical Power' badge cannot be discerned.


Leyton Urban District Council Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges - 'Motorman' and 'Conductor' - of the type used by Leyton District Council Tramways. These were probably brass to match the buttons.


Leyton District Council Tramways Tram Points Boy
The third figure on the above photograph, who appears to be a junior employee, possibly a Points Boy or a Parcels Boy. Instead of the usual grade badge, his cap bears 'L D C T' initials.


Leyton UDC Tramways Tram No 45 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 45 pose for the cameraman at Whipps Cross with a Clapton service, though only working (temporarily) as far as Lea Bridge Station - photo dated 1910. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Leyton UDC Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. He is wearing a script-lettering grade badge - 'Conductor' - above which is a small shield-shaped badge, which presumably bore the municipal device of Leyton, i.e. three swords (as did the buttons - see link).


Leyton UDC Tramways motorman
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the motorman. He is the holder of PSV 'Mechanical Power' badge No 1997 (these bore white letters/numbers on a dark background, almost certainly blue).


Leyton UDC Tramways Tram No 60 and crew
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 60 at Leyton Depot - photo undated, but probably taken in 1910 or shortly thereafter as it bears a poster advertising it as a 'Through Car for Epping Forest and Aldgate' (introduced in 1910). In contrast to the earlier photo above, the motorman's PSV 'Mechanical Power' badge has a dark-coloured border. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Female staff
Leyton UDC Tramways c1915 conductress
A studio portrait of two Leyton District Council Tramways Great War conductresses - photo taken in 1915. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Leyton District Council Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the collar insignia, 'L D C T' and 'Conductor'. Her PSV 'Conductor' badge is No 13556.