Stockton and Thornaby Corporation Tramways

History
Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby-on-Tees Corporations became tramway owners on the 3rd April 1921, when they purchased the lines of the Middlesbrough, Stockton and Thornaby Electric Tramways Company within their respective boundaries, as well as a share of the company's assets. The two corporations operated the tramway, which ran from Norton in the north to Stockton and then over the Tees to Thornaby (in total 3.76 miles), via a Joint Committee.

The remainder of the MS&TET — totalling 5.49 miles — was purchased on the same date by Middlesbrough Corporation. Through running on the old MS&TET main line — between Norton and North Ormesby, via Stockton, Thornaby and Middlesbrough — remained in place following the municipal take-over.

The former MS&TET system was however soon exposed to intense private bus competition, and by 1926 it was clear that Stockton and Thornaby Corporations did not see a long-term future for the tramway system. Three years later, Stockton formally announced its intention to abandon the tramway, which ultimately led to Thornaby, which had originally been reluctant to withdraw services, disposing of its transport interests to Stockton on the 31st July 1930; the latter continued to operate the tram services until their withdrawal six months later.

Stockton's decision to abandon the tramway left Middlesbrough with little choice but to follow suit. Despite having invested in track renewal, it agreed to withdraw services over the main line between Norton and North Ormesby, replacing these with a coordinated municipal bus service (operated by Stockton and Middlesbrough Corporations); the last tram over the main line ran on the 31st December 1931.

The remaining tramway between Linthorpe and the Transporter Bridge struggled on for another 17 months before finally succumbing, the last tramcar of all (No 103) running on the 9th June 1934.

Uniform
Stockton and Thornaby Corporation Tramways came into being on the 3rd April 1921, when Stockton-on-Tees Corporation and Thornaby-on-Tees Corporation took over the Imperial Tramways Company-owned Middlesbrough, Stockton and Thornaby Electric Tramways. The system was worked by a joint committee until the 1st August 1930, and thereafter by Stockton alone, until closure of the system on the 31st December 1931.

Considering that the system, albeit only 3.76 miles in length, existed for over ten years, images of S&TCT staff are extremely rare, with just a solitary example (shown below) known to me. Unfortunately, the subject is wearing a double-breasted greatcoat, so details of his uniform are totally obscured; the greatcoat itself does not appear to bear any insignia. Caps were military in style with a glossy peak, and bore a large, brass municipal cap badge bearing the shields of the respective corporations, with the system title — STOCKTON AND THORNABY CORPORATION TRAMWAYS— carried in ribbons above and below the shields, and the grade — either MOTORMAN or CONDUCTOR — in another ribbon below that. The badge was effectively a reworking of the former MS&TET cap badge, but with the Middlesbrough shield and name omitted (see link).

Photographs of inspectors have not survived, so it is impossible to state what uniforms were worn. A cap badge has however survived, which takes exactly the same form as those issued to motormen and conductors, but with the grade — INSPECTOR — in the ribbon below.

Further reading
For a history of Middlesbrough-area tramways, see: 'The Tramways of Teeside' by George S Hearse; The Tramway Review, Nos 22 & 23 (p141-161); Light Railway Transport League (1957).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Stockton and Thornaby Corporation Tramways Tram No 32
Stockton and Thornaby Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 32 posed for the cameraman with an unknown passenger and a conductor — photo undated, but certainly taken between 1921 and 1931, and very probably nearer to the latter date. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Stockton and Thornaby Corporation Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. The distinctive shape of his cap badge can just be made out.


Stockton and Thornaby Tramways Conductor
S&TCT conductor's cap badge — brass. Author's Collection.


Stockton and Thornaby Tramways Motorman
S&TCT motorman's cap badge — brass. Author's Collection.


Senior staff

S&TCT inspector's cap badge — brass. With thanks to Sally Bosley.