Hastings Tramway Company

Several photographs taken around the time of opening (1905) show tramcar staff in informal but smart attire; although some of these shots are clearly of trial runs (of which there were many), the possibility remains that there were difficulties with the uniform supply during the first few months, leaving some crews without.

Motormen and conductors were eventually issued with sturdy double-breasted jackets with two rows of four brass buttons (bearing the company title and monogram — see link), with the top pair buttoning between the lapels and the collars. The collars initially bore some kind of insignia, possibly embroidered system initials — 'H T C'. Caps were in a military style with a large tensioned crown (top) and bore a hat band, more than likely in a contrasting colour to the cap, with embroidered lettering, either 'HTC Motorman' or 'HTC Conductor', with the 'HTC' in block capitals and the grade in script lettering (see below). Apart from the collar insignia, which seems to have been dispensed with quite early on, the basic style of uniform remained unchanged for the entire lifetime of the tramway, which closed in 1929.

Motormen and conductors were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and lapels; other than the buttons, these garments bore no badges.

Hastings Borough required all tramcar staff to be licensed, including inspectors, as a result of which, a large round brass licence badge was worn; this was suspended on a leather hanger, usually from the bearer's top left jacket button. The licence bore a number in the middle with 'HASTINGS' at the top and the grade at the bottom, all in upper case letters. An example has survived (see below) for a conductor, and examination of photographs would suggest that the motorman equivalent bore 'DRIVER'.

Inspectors and timekeepers seem to have worn similar, if not identical, jackets and greatcoats to those worn by motormen and conductors. Caps were also in the same military style, but appear to have carried a large oval, embroidered cloth cap badge, possibly bearing system initials — 'H T C' — and the bearer's grade. Hastings also employed the services of a Traffic Superintendent; if the identification is correct (by no means certain), then he wore the same uniform as everyone else, but with an elaborately braided hat band (see below).

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, the HTC employed women during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; these ladies were certainly employed as conductresses, and at least one as a ticket inspectress, though it is less clear if they ever took on driving duties. They were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures) and plain lapels, along with a long matching skirt. Caps were baggy topped with a stiff glossy peak, and did not carry a badge (at least in surviving shots).

On 1st September 1914, the company had in their employ, 68 motormen, 68 conductors (4 learners), 8 inspectors, 1 timekeeper and 1 traffic superintendent (Hastings Tramways Centenary 1905-2005 by D Padgham; Hastings Local History Group [2005]).

For a pictorial history of this system, see: 'Hastings Tramways' by Robert J Harley; Middleton Press (1993).


Motormen and conductors
Hastings Tramways Company Tram No 10
Although this photo would appear to suggest that tramway drivers initially wore informal attire, it more than likely depicts the first trial trip — before opening — on 15th July 1905. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Hastings Tramways Company tram No 28
Motorman, conductor and two other tramway staff (possibly inspectors) pose for the cameraman with Tramcar No 28 at Silverhill (the driver is at the wrong end of the car) — photo undated, but probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Hastings Tramways Company staff Great War
A small number of tramway staff photographed at the Silverhill Depot some time during the Great War. They seem a rather motley bunch: ladies, elderly men and a young girl thrown in for good measure. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.

Hastings Tramways Company motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing a motorman (Licence No 5); the hat band has 'H T C Motorman', in embroidered lettering.

Hastings Tramways Company conductor licence brass
Hastings conductor licence No 537 - brass. The high number suggests that it was first issued long after the demise of the tramway. Author's Collection.

Hastings Tramways Company motorman
Another motorman — Licence No 23 — from the aforementioned staff photo. He has a Silver War Badge on his right lapel; these were issued to soldiers who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or illness. His hat band also bears a regimental badge — common practice during the Great War - possibly Royal Artillery.

Great War Silver War badge
Silver War Badge 1916. Photo courtesy of John Dawson.

Hastings Tramways Company Cap Badge
HTC cap badge — brass and enamel. This badge certainly post-dates the demise of the tramway, and is in the style of Maidstone and District Motor Services Ltd, which bought out the HTC on 11th November 1935, some 6 years after the trams were replaced by trolley buses.

Senior staff
Hastings Tramways Company Criclet club 1906
A photo purportedly taken in 1906 which presumably shows the 'Tramways' Cricket Team. The figures either side at the back have embroidered collar insignia and oval cap badges, suggesting that they are not tramcar staff but a more senior grade such as inspectors or timekeepers. Photo in the public domain.

Hastings Tramways Company 1906 conductor or tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing one of the senior grade staff above. He is wearing a sturdy double-breasted jacket similar to those worn by motormen and conductors, with embroidered insignia on the collars, possibly system initials. The cap bears a large embroidered cloth cap badge rather than the usual embroidered hat band. It seems reasonable to assume that both men are inspectors or time keepers.

Hastings Tramways Company inspector
Another blow-up of the Great War staff photo above, possibly depicting the Traffic Superintendent, judging by the elaborately braided hat band. His licence is 'No 2'.

Female staff
Hastings Tramways Company Great War conductresses
Two ladies (Licence Nos 6 and 53) — probably conductresses — taken from the Great War staff photo above. Neither lady is wearing a cap badge of any description.