Rotherham Corporation Tramways

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate good quality photos of Rotherham staff, so what follows is based on rather sparse evidence. It would appear that conductors and motormen were initially issued with double-breasted jackets with five pairs of buttons and lapels, the upper buttons being worn between lapel and collar. The buttons bore a municipal device and the full system title (see link) and were probably brass. It is unclear whether the collars bore any badges as surviving photographs do not allow this to be discerned. The first photo below seems to suggest that uniform caps were not initially issued, though care must be taken in extrapolating from a single image.

By the mid-to-late Edwardian era, the jacket lapels certainly bore badges, probably an employee number on the bearer's left-hand collar, and system initials — 'R C T' — in individual brass letters, on the right-hand side. Uniform caps were definitely being worn by this time, and were military in style with a tensioned crown (top); they bore a script-lettering grade badge — either Conductor or Motorman — above which a municipal badge was worn comprising two shields (see below). It should be noted that much of this is tentative, and confirmation must await the discovery of better photographic evidence.

This general style of uniform appears to have persisted through the inter-war years, though script-lettering cap badges were possibly dispensed with at some point. As the name of the undertaking was changed to 'Rotherham Corporation Transport' around 1929, at some point subsequent to this, new issues of uniforms would almost certainly have borne 'Rotherham Corporation Transport buttons.

As the system lasted beyond the Second World War, it is reasonably likely that a more modern style of uniform would have been introduced at some point, though once again, confirmation must await the discovery of further photographic evidence. The survival of chrome buttons clearly indicates that modern materials were used, so it seems highly probably that new designs of jackets would also have been considered.

It is currently unclear what style of uniform was worn by inspectors, as good quality images have so far proven elusive.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, the RCT employed the services of female staff during the Great War to replace tramwaymen lost to the armed services. The first conductress started on 30th October 1915, and eventually there were over 60 employed; they were apparently not used as motorwomen due to the steep gradients on the system. These ladies wore double-breasted, tailored jackets with five pairs of buttons (narrowing slightly from top to bottom), epaulettes and high fold-over collars, and long matching skirts. It is unclear what insignia, if any, the jackets carried. Headgear took the form of a dark-coloured bonnet which bore a hatband; this probably bore the grade or system initials.

Details of the uniforms worn by female staff during the Second World War are unknown.

For a history of Rotherham's tramway system, see: 'Rotherham and District Transport', 'Vol 1 to 1914', 'Vol 2 to 1939', 'Vol 3 to 1974' by C C Hall; Rotherwood Press (1996, 1998 and 1999, respectively).


Motormen and conductors
Rotherham Corporation Tramways Tram No 6 on Canklow service
The crew of Tramcar No 6, which was delivered in 1902, pose for the camera at the Rawmarsh Road terminus — photo undated, but probably early-to-mid Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways Tram No 6 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, both of whom are wearing uniforms, but with flat caps.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways Tram No 15 Thrybergh
Tramcar No 15 in rebuilt double-deck condition on a Thryburgh via Dalton service — photo undated, but probably taken in the years leading up to the Great War. Author's Collection.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways Tram No 15 and conductor and motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. Both men are wearing military-style caps with script-lettering grade badges, above which would appear to be a Rotherham municipal cap badge.

Rhondda Tramways Company cap badges
Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering grade badges of the type used by the Rotherham Corporation Tramway — brass. All badges were probably brass initially, eventually being superseded by nickel and possibly even chrome. Author's Collection.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways conductor
A rare studio portrait of a Rotherham Corporation Tramways employee (No 168), probably a conductor. The photo is undated, but was more than likely taken in the 1920s or 1930s. Author's Collection; with thanks to Bruce Anthony.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform insignia. The subject's right-hand collar bears individual 'R C T' system initials, the left an employee number (168). His cap does not bear a script-lettering grade badge, just a municipal arms badge.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways lapel badge
Rotherham Corporation Tramways cap badge — nickel. These would no doubt have been brass in the first few decades, but nickel in later years. Author's Collection.

Rotherham Corporation Tramways badge
Possible Rotherham Corporation Tramways cap badge — nickel. This version, with the bridge and the motto underneath may have been worn by tramwaymen, though confirmation must await the discovery of new photographic evidence. Author's Collection.