Neath and District Tramways

The Neath and District Tramways Company Limited opened its standard-gauge, horse-drawn tramway on the 19th November 1875. The system was essentially a single line, 3.96 miles long, running from Skewen eastwards to Neath, then southwards to Briton Ferry on the east bank of the River Neath.

Precious little is known about the tramway, other than the fact that it operated eight horsecars and was purchased by Neath Corporation on the 7th August 1896. The line was probably compulsorily purchased by the corporation given that the date is almost 21 years after opening, and local authorities had the right to purchase after 21 years under the provisions of the Tramways Act 1870. The corporation subsequently sought powers to convert it to electric traction, but instead leased it to a series of companies that worked the line with gas-powered trams.

Photographs of Neath's horse trams are exceedingly rare, either during the days of the Neath & District Tramways Company or following the latter's acquisition by Neath Corporation. However, from the few images which have survived, it would seem likely that uniforms were not issued, and that horsecar crews simply wore robust but informal attire, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, predominantly the bowler hat, but later on the flat cap.

Photographs of senior staff (e.g., inspectors) are yet to come to light, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms they wore, or indeed, whether the N&DTCo even employed them.

Further reading
For a short history of the system, see: 'Lost Tramways of Wales - South Wales and the Valleys' by Peter Waller; Graffeg Limited (2018).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Neath and District Tramways 1889
An assemblage of Neath and District Tramways staff, including the Manager, James Naish (seated in the centre), captured in the depot yard around 1889. None of those present, other than the soldier, are wearing a uniform. Photo by kind permission of James Naish's great grandson, Bob Barwick.

Neath and District Tramways tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing an individual (extreme left) who is carrying a fare collection box, and who is therefore, certainly a conductor. The boy immediately to the left of James Naish is probably also a conductor, as he appears to be wearing a cash bag.