Keighley Corporation Tramways

Although Keighley Corporation took over the tracks of the Keighley Tramways Company in 1896, it immediately leased the operation of the system back to the company, only taking over itself in 1901. Photographs taken during the period when the corporation worked the horse car services (September 1901 to May 1904) are rare, but those that have survived strongly suggest that the corporation continued the company practice of allowing tramcar staff to wear informal attire.

Good quality photographs depicting staff from the electric era are also surprisingly rare, perhaps reflecting its rather short life, Keighley being the first UK municipality to abandon its tramway in 1924. Surviving photographs do however show that on the introduction of electric services, staff were issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons (bearing the full system title — see link), and lapels; the latter bore insignia of some kind, though this cannot be made out on the photographs themselves. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top), and carried script-lettering grade badges — either Motorman or Conductor — above which was a small badge was worn, more than likely an employee number or a municipal device of some description. There is highly likely that the style of uniform was changed around the time of the Great War, though photographic evidence remains stubbornly sketchy.

Tramcar staff were also issued with long double-breasted greatcoats with high, fold-over collars; the latter bore insignia of some kind, though once again, surviving photographs do not show these in sufficient detail.

Inspectors - at least prior to the Great War - wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and with upright collars; the latter probably carried Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in a kepi style and probably bore the grade — Inspector — on a hat band in embroidered script lettering.

In common with many tramway operators, Keighley employed the services of women during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; the first six conductresses were taken on in April 1916, and were followed by a number of motorwomen in December. Unfortunately, photographs of these ladies are yet to come to light, so it is currently impossible to state what form their uniforms took.

For a full history of the system, see: Keighley Corporation Transport by J S King; The Advertiser Press Limited (1964).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Keighley Corporation Tramways Horse tram
An unidentified Keighley horse tram — photo undated, but in view of the lack of a company name, almost certainly taken after the full corporation take-over of late 1901. The driver is wearing informal attire, including a knee blanket. Author's Collection.

Motormen and conductors

Keighley Corporation Tramways Tram No 11
The crew of Tramcar No 10 pose for the camera with what looks to be a newly built Tramcar No 10, dating the photograph to the summer of 1905. Both men are wearing script-lettering grade badges, with a small badge above, probably either an employee number or a municipal device. Author's Collection.

Keighley Corporation Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges — Motorman and Conductor — of the type used by Keighley Corporation Tramways.

Keighly Corporation Tramways decorated car.
A tramcar — either No 9 or No 10 — pictured at Holker St, heavily decorated to mark the occasion of a French visit on 3rd September 1905. The motorman is wearing the usual double-breasted jacket with lapels. Author's Collection.

Keighley Corporation Tramways Tram No 12 at Cliffe Castle
A motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 12 outside the entrance to Cliffe Castle in 1906; he is wearing a double-breasted greatcoat. Photo courtesy of Duncan Holden.

Keighley Corporation Tramways Tram No 8
Tramcar No 8 outside the Institute in 1922. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Keighley Corporation tramways motorman driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, though precious little of his uniform can be seen.