Sheffield Corporation Tramways



Owner Sheffield Corporation
Opened 6th October 1873
Operator (lessee) Sheffield Tramways Company
Took over (operation)
11th July 1896
First electric route 5th September 1899
Title changed 1916 (Sheffield Corporation Tramways and Motors)
Title changed 17th April 1934 (Sheffield Corporation Transport)
Closed 8th October 1960
Length 52.05 miles
Gauge 4ft 8½ins

Button description (Pattern 1)
Arms (shield with a sheaf of arrows above three wheatsheaves, surmounted by a helmet, garland and a lion upon a torse) with Thor and Vulcan as supporters, all above motto: 'Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit' (With God's help our labour is successful)
Materials known Brass
Button Line reference [None]

Button description (Pattern 2) Title (‘Corporation Tramways’) surrounding arms (shield with a sheaf of arrows above three wheatsheaves, surmounted by a lion upon a torse), all above motto: 'Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit' (With God's help our labour is successful)
Materials known Brass
Button Line reference [None]

Button description (Pattern 3) Title (‘Corporation Tramways’) surrounding arms (stylised shield with a sheaf of arrows above three wheatsheaves, surmounted by a lion upon a torse) with Thor and Vulcan as supporters, all above motto: 'Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit' (With God's help our labour is successful)
Materials known Nickel; re-chrome; brass
Button Line reference [114/61]

Comment
Photos taken shortly after the corporation takeover of the Sheffield Tramways Company (1896) show staff wearing uniforms, and it is possible that the Pattern 1 button stems from this era; however, the only evidence I have for this is 'word of mouth' from a long-time Sheffield transport enthusiast, and until photographic or other robust evidence becomes available, this must remain supposition. Indeed, it is entirely possible that it has no connection with tramway operation whatsoever, and it is perhaps more likely that the Pattern 2 button - which is clearly marked 'Tramways' - was issued to staff working the Corporation-owned horse trams. The Pattern 3 button was certainly used for the vast majority of the electric tramway's lifespan, and may well have been introduced at its inception.

The two supporters - Thor and Vulcan - represent the Sheffield steel industry, being the smithing gods of the Scandinavian and Graeco-Roman worlds, respectively. The Pattern 3 button appears in two variants: one variant has the first 'O' in 'Corporation' filled in with what appears to be a cross, whereas in the second much rarer variant, it is empty. The significance of the cross is unclear.

For those interested, a torse is a twisted roll of fabric that was wound around the top of the helm and crest to hold the mantle in place.