Ilford Council Tramways

Summary
Ilford Motormen always wore double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom, and bearing a monogram of the council's initials surrounded by the full council title - see link), two waist pockets, and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side in individual numerals, whilst the other side probably carried system initials, presumably 'I C T', though this awaits confirmatory photographic evidence. Conductors were initially issued with single-breasted jackets with a row of five buttons, two waist pockets (and possibly two breast pockets, with button closures), and upright collars; the latter almost certainly carried identical insignia to those worn by motormen. The uniforms were initially of blue serge with red piping. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and carried standard, off-the-shelf, script lettering grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - above which was worn an employee number in individual numerals; all badges were probably nickel to match the buttons.

The uniforms were apparently changed to grey serge with green piping around the time of the Great War, probably at the same time the tramcar livery was changed to green and cream (1915). The new uniforms were double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics, with epaulettes (possibly green), and were worn by both motormen and conductors. At some point in the late 1920s, conductors' jackets appear to have been changed once again, back to a single-breasted design, but with lapels; it is unclear whether the lapels or epaulettes carried insignia of any kind.

Tramcar staff also wore greatcoats - mainly the motormen - which were in a double-breasted, 'lancer-style' with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and high, fold-over collars, initially without epaulettes but in later years with. It would appear that neither collars nor epaulettes bore insignia, though this is far from certain.

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

Women were almost certained employed in the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services, however, the only photograph yet to come to light cannot unfortuantely be ascribed with absolute certainty to Ilford. This photograph (see below) suggests that conductresses were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt with button fastening, high, fold-over collars and epaulettes. Whilst the collars were left plain (i.e. unadorned), the epaulettes carried an employee number, at least on the bearer's left-hand side, and probably on both. A long-matching skirt was also worn. Headgear took the form of a stiff felt bonnet which bore a hat band; the surviving photograph shows the subject wearing a shield-shaped badge, which is more than likely a regimental sweetheart badge rather than a system-specific issue.

Photographs of inspectors have unfortunately not survived, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms were worn.

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

Motormen and conductors
Ilford Council Tramways motorman
A damaged but nevertheless excellent portrait of Ilford Council Tramways Motorman No 44 - photo undated, but probably taken around the time of opening (1903). The subject is wearing a Mechanical Power PSV badge (issued from 1897 to some time in the early-to-mid Edwardian era - see link). Magnification clearly shows the buttons to be the standard IUDC Pattern 1 type (see link). Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


Ilford Council Tramways cap badges
Standard 'off-the-shelf' script-lettering cap badges of the type worn by Ilford staff - nickel.


Ilford Council Tramways Tram No 7 at Chadwell Heath
The crew of what is probably a newly top-covered Tramcar No 7 pose for the cameraman at Chadwell Heath around 1906. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Tram driver and conductor - Ilford Council Tramways
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, the motorman in double-breasted greatcoat and the conductor in single-breasted jacket with upright collars. Despite the fact that both men have unfortunately moved, blurring the photo, the script-lettering grade badges on their caps can still be read.


Ilford Council Tramways Tram No 15 Chadwell Heath
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 15 near Chadwell Heath - photo undated, but probably early-to-mid Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Ilford Corporation Tramways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, in unbuttoned tunic, or possibly a greatcoat, suggesting that it was a hot summer's day.


Ilford Council Tramways Tram No 23 Loxford Bridge 1918
Tramcar No 23 (the original one of that number) stands near Loxford Bridge in 1918, decorated for some unknown occasion. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Ilford Council Tramways tram crew 1918
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, both of whom are wearing 'lancer-style' tunics.


Ilford Council Tramways Tramcar No 28 and crew
Conductor (in single-breasted tunic) and motorman (in double-breasted tunic) take five minutes' break with Tramcar No 28 in the background - photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1930s, before this ex-Barking car was replaced. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Ilford Council Tramways Tram No 21 Ilford Broadway April 1933
Ilford Council Tramways Tramcar No 21 captured in Ilford Broadway in April 1933, barely 3 months before the system's absorption into the London Passenger Transport Board (1st July 1933). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.


Ilford Council Tramways Tram driver 1933
Blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, in double-breasted greatcoat, devoid of insignia


Female staff
Ilford Council Tramways Great War tram conductress
A portrait taken in the studios of F W Clark of Forest Gate and Ilford - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Whilst the subject could well be an employee of Ilford Council Tramways, there remains a distinct possibility that she was a servant of one of the other local tramways, namely: Barking Town UDC Tramways, East Ham Corporation Tramways or West Ham Corporation Tramways. Source unknown.


Ilford Council Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform and headwear. The cap badge is very probably a regimental sweetheart badge, the wearing of which was very common during the Great War, being used to show solidarity with a loved one serving in the armed forces.