Cardiff Tramways Company

Cardiff's first horse tramway, which opened on the 12th July 1872, was built and owned by the Cardiff Tramways Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Provincial Tramways Company Limited. The latter subsequently acquired the operating lease of the neighbouring Cardiff District and Penarth Harbour Tramways — on the 1st April 1887 — from which time onwards, it too was worked by the CTCoLtd. The CTCoLtd passed into the hands of Cardiff Corporation on 1st January 1902, the last horse tram running on the 12th October 1902.

Photographs of Cardiff's horse tramways are surprisingly rare, and those which show tramway staff are rarer still, so details of uniforms are of necessity sparse. The first shot below was very probably taken on the opening day (12th July 1872), and shows a multitude of civic dignitaries, but only one regular employee, namely, the driver of the first horse car. This photo strongly suggests that drivers initially wore informal, smart attire, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, at this time, the bowler hat. As no conductors are in evidence in this very early photo, it is currently impossible to say whether or not they were issued with uniforms in the early years of operation. It was certainly fairly common practice on UK horse tramway systems to issue uniforms to conductors, but not drivers.

By the 1890s, both drivers and conductors were still wearing informal attire, however, whilst drivers continued to wear informal attire, possibly right through to the municipal take-over, later photographs suggest that conductors may have been issued with uniforms. The photos are however of very poor quality and they are hardly definitive, so until better evidence comes to light, it is not possible to be certain whether uniforms were worn (or not) in the latter years of the tramways existence.

Photographs of inspectors have not survived, so it is currently unclear what unfiorms they wore (if any) and indeed, whether the CTCoLtd even emploed them.

Further reading
For a brief history of the company, see 'Cardiff's Electric Tramways' by David Gould; Oakwood Press (1974).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Cardiff Tramways Company opening day 1872
A very early horse-tramway era photograph depicting several cars of the Cardiff Tramways Company in High St, on what was almost certainly the opening day of services (12th July 1872). The only horsecar employee in evidence is the driver of the first tram, who is wearing informal attire, a very common practice amongst UK horse tram operators. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Cardiff Tramways Company Horse Tram No 41 in 1890
A rather pristine-looking Horsecar No 41 on what is purportedly the opening day of the new Royal Oak-Newport Rd-Pier Head service, dating the photograph to the early 1890s. Both the conductor and the driver are wearing smart but informal attire; the conductor was apparently called John William Bendall and the driver, G Pyke. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Cardiff Tramways Company Horse Tram
A tatty-looking but unidentified horsecar working the Canton-High St-Bute Docks route — photo undated, but possibly taken in the mid-to-late 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Unknown - 3 CROP
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver and conductor, the latter apparently called Jack Dalgliesh. The driver is in informal attire, whilst the conductor is wearing a soft-topped or kepi-style cap and a greatcoat. Whether these were company-issued is unclear.