Neath and District Tramways

The Neath and District Tramways Company Limited opened its standard-gauge, horse-drawn tramway on the 18th 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 that it had eight horsecars, and in its early years (at least), that it was operated via a lessee (a Mr Bartlett). The company was purchased on the 7th August 1896 by the Neath Tramway Syndicate, who were acting on behalf of Neath Town Council (Corporation), the latter being unable to operate the tramway itself until it had obtained the powers to do so. The Neath Tramways Act became law in June 1897, following which the corporation presumably took over, reconstructing the line in 1898 and thereafter leasing it to a succession of companies that operated gas 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 that have survived, it would seem highly likely that uniforms were not provided, and that horsecar crews simply wore robust but informal attire, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, predominantly the bowler hat.

The tramway company certainly employed the services of an inspector, though no photographs have survived, so it is unclear what uniform, if any, was provided.

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.