Matlock Cable Tramway
The history of Matlock's tramway falls into two distinct phases, from the opening in March 1893 through to June 1898 (under the auspices of the Matlock Tramway Company Ltd), and thereafter until its closure in September 1927 as a municipal concern (initally under the auspices of 'Matlock UDC' and latterly the 'Matlocks UDC'). The MTCoLTd certainly issued its staff with uniforms, though close-up photos only reveal sufficient detail to confirm that long-sleeved waistcoats were worn, along with kepi-style caps; the latter appear not to have carried a cap badge, though this cannot be stated with certainty. The waistcoats bore metallic buttons and had sleeves of a lighter-coloured material than the main body, a style that remained in favour in the subsequent municipal era.
New uniforms were issued in November 1898 following the gift of the system to Matlock UDC in the summer of that year (by Sir George Newnes); these comprised blue jackets with red piping, brown cord trousers and long-sleeved waistcoats, along with a kepi-style cap. Photographs suggest that the sleeves of the waistcoats were a different material than the main body, possibly the same cord used for the trousers; the jackets had four metal buttons and the waistcoats five. Given that the council is known to have used local suppliers for the uniforms throughout the municipal era, the buttons were more than likely plain, i.e. unmarked; it is of course possible that the council had their own municipal buttons manufactured and provided to local tailors, though there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this.
Exceptionally for a tramway system, the kepi-style caps did not carry a cap badge. A simple number badge was however introduced in late 1899, ostensibly so that the public could identify individuals they wanted to complain about, but these appear to have quickly fallen out of use. The kepi caps were replaced - in the late Edwardian era - by more modern looking military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops); they continued to be devoid of badges right through to the closure of the system in 1927. Given that the council used various suppliers over the course of the tramway's lifetime, the cut of the jackets inevitably changed subtly down the years, as fashions altered and the council's purse-strings tightened, though the one constant appears to have been the complete lack of system insignia or grade badges. Photographs suggest that in later years, tramcar staff sometimes turned out in completely informal attire, including flat caps.
The MTCoLtd and Matlock UDC also provided drivers and conductors with topcoats/greatcoats, though precisely what form these took is currently unclear. The council apparently ceased this practice during the Great War, and tramcar crews were thereafter expected to supply their own winter clothing.
The tramway did not employ inspectors, and unlike the vast majority of UK tramway systems, nor did it employ the services of women during the Great War.
For a history of the tramway, see: 'The Matlock Cable Tramway' by Glynn Waite; Pynot Publishing (2012). I am indebted to Glynn for all the photos below, as well the background information above and the captions below.
Cable tram drivers and conductors
Tramcar No 1 stands at the bottom of Bank Rd - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-1890s. The youthful-looking conductor (on the steps) is wearing a long-sleeved waistcoat and a kepi-style cap, seemingly without a cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
The crew of a fairly pristine-looking Tramcar No 2, devoid of adverts, stare intently at the cameraman, who has captured the scene at Crown Square some time in 'company' days, so definitely before summer 1898. Both men are wearing waistcoats with metallic buttons and sleeves of a lighter-coloured material than the main body, along with kepi-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
Tramcar No 3, captured outside the depot in 1898, shortly after being repainted with the title of the new owner, Matlock Urban District Council. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the youthful-looking conductor (right), and an individual of barely more advanced years, who stands with his foot rather proprietorially on the vehicle footstep, and who is probably the driver; both men a wearing informal attire, the conductor in a flat cap and the driver in a bowler hat. Given that the council had only just taken over the system, this would suggest that its predecessor - The Matlock Cable Tramway Company Limited - may not have bothered ordering new uniforms towards the end of its tenure.
A driver at the controls of Tramcar No 3 in Smedley Street loop, in either 1901 or 1902, clearly wearing a uniform and cap. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver's smart uniform: jacket, waistcoat, white shirt and tie, and kepi-style cap. The latter clearly bears a number - in this case '3' - though the use of these was apparently only short lived.
Another shot taken at Smedley Street loop, this time of Tramcar No 2, and probably in 1904. The driver is wearing his long-sleeved waistcoat without a jacket, so it was perhaps, a hot summer's day. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A rare survivor, two extremely young lads captured for posterity inside the depot, the subject on the right very probably one of the conductors - photo undated, but likely mid-Edwardian given the kepi-style cap. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
Tramcar No 1 pictured outside the depot in what appears to be fairly recently outshopped condition (1904 livery), strongly suggesting that the photo was probably taken in that year. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, both in kepis devoid of employee numbers, which had presumably fallen out of use by this time.
A poor quality photograph, damaged with age, but a rare one depicting the consequences of three-car working at Crown Square - photo undated, but certainly taken some time between 1904 and 1907. The conductor on the left is Wilf Swift, whose regular job was 'route & boilerman', but who was called on to turn out as a conductor during three-car working; he would have been working on the car immediately behind the one pictured, but would have been helping the conductor of this car, who is pictured holding a fare collection box, get the vehicle turned and loaded. The driver is Bill Handley, and he, as well as both conductors, are all smartly turned out. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
The crew of a somewhat faded-looking Tramcar No 2 pose for the cameraman outside the depot circa 1910. By this time, the kepi caps had clearly been superseded by more modern military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops). Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor; although he has a new style of cap, the council were still clearly happy for them to be devoid of any formal identifcation such as a grade badge. The reflective strip is in fact the cap's chinstrap; these were in effect ornamental and were worn across the top of the peak rather than under the chin, as seen here.
One of those rare photographs which can be very precisely dated, in this case, to the 18th January 1921. The driver - Bill Handley - is wearing a flat cap and greatcoat, which he presumably had to purchase himself, given that the Council stopped providing the latter garments during the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
Driver Harry Wheldon aboard the platform of Tramcar No 3 - circa 1926. Unlike several other contemporary photos, he is clearly wearing a uniform and cap. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.
A postcard taken in the 1920s, where both conductor and driver appear to be wearing informal attire with flat caps, though this is far from conclusive. Photo courtesy of the Glynn Waite Collection.