Highgate Hill Cable Tramway

The Highgate Hill Cable Tramway had, to say the least, a chequered history, passing through several hands, and even closing for over four years in the 1890s. Photographs taken in the 1880s and early 1890s clearly show that neither drivers nor conductors wore uniforms, both simply wearing smart but informal attire, comprising jacket, shirt and tie (and sometimes a waistcoat) and the fashionable headgear of the day, invariably the bowler hat. Photographs taken between the re-opening of 1896 and final closure in 1909, and which show staff, are few and far between, but do suggest that drivers continued to wear informal attire. Conductors on the other hand may have been issued with jackets and soft-topped caps, though this is based on a single photograph that may not be representative.

Drivers and conductors always wore enamel Public Carriage Office licences (see link) when working on the trams.

In view of the extreme shortness of the line, it is believed that the company did not see fit to employ inspectors.

For a history of the Highgate Hill Cable Tramway, see: 'London County Council Tramways Volume 2, North London' by E R Oakley; The London Tramways History Group (1991).


Cable tram drivers and conductors
Highgate Hill Cable Tramway No 6
A rather new-looking Tractor Car No 6 and its pristine trailer standing at the top of the line, suggesting that the photo was taken not long after opening, so probably in 1884. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Highgate Hill Cable Tram
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and another unidentified individual, both of whom are wearing informal attire. The conductor's PCO badge can just be made out hanging from his cashbag strap at the bottom of his jacket.

Highgate Hill Cable Tram No 5 and trailer
Tractor Car No 5 and trailer - photo undated, but judging by the slightly faded paintwork and the tall bowler hats, probably taken in the late 1880s. Both the driver and conductor (stood on the trailer platform) are wearing informal attire with bowler hats; the sole nod to officialdom are the Metropolitan Police-issued PCO licences, which both men are wearing. Photo courtesy of Dave Jones.

Highgate Hill Cable Tramway Tractor No 5
Tractor Car No 5 and Trailer No 3 stand at the Archway Tavern terminus - photo purportedly taken around the turn of the century. Photo in the public domain.

Highgate Hill No 5 CROP
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver and conductor. Whilst the driver is wearing informal attire, the conductor would appear to be wearing a uniform with a soft-topped cap, though this is by no means certain. Once again, both men are wearing enamel PCO licences.