Swindon Corporation Tramways

Summary
Images from the early years of tramway operation in Swindon, which show tramway staff with any degree of clarity, are very sparse indeed. The first example below is unfortunately undated, but was very probably taken shortly after opening. The motorman and conductor appear to be wearing open-necked jackets with shirts and ties, and soft-topped, military-style caps. Given that later photographs clearly and consistently show staff wearing tunics with upright collars, buttoned-up at the neck, it would appear that tramcar staff were initially issued a very different style of uniform, or possibly, that uniforms were not ready in time for the opening, and informal attire was worn.

At some point — currently unknown, but certainly by 1910 - staff wore fairly standard tramway jackets, single-breasted with five brass buttons bearing the full system title and municipal device (see link), and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number in individual metal numerals on the left-hand side and the system initials — 'S C T' — in individual metal letters, on the right-hand side, almost certainly in brass to match the buttons. Photos indicate that motormen's jackets had two breast pockets whilst conductors' had two waist pockets.

Caps were now in a military style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top); they bore a script-lettering grade badge — either Motorman or Conductor - along with a small brass Swindon shield badge (usually worn above the grade badge but sometimes absent). An example of a Swindon municipal cap badge is depicted below, but this may not be the same as those issued to tramway staff as there appear to be differences in the overall shape.

Inspectors wore single-breasted tunics with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair) and upright collars; the latter appear to have carried Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were similar to those issued to other grades, and they very likely carried the grade - Inspector - on a hat band in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs.

Ladies were employed from early 1917 onwards to replace male employees lost to the armed services, though in the case of Swindon, as conductresses only. Uniforms comprised single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt, breast pockets (with button fastenings), lapels and epaulettes. The latter had a button at the neck end and appear to have carried metal employee numerals. Long, matching skirts were worn, with the caps and the cap insignia seemingly identical to those issued to male employees.

For a history of the system, see: 'The Swindon Tramways' by L. J. Dalby; The Oakwood Press (1973).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Swindon Corporation Tramways Tram No 4
A conductor and motorman pose for the photographer aboard Tramcar No 4 on the Rodbourne Rd route — photo undated, but very probably taken shortly after opening. In marked contrast to later photos, both men are wearing open-necked jackets with collar and tie, as well as what would appear to be soft-topped, military-style caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swindon Corporation Tramways staff photo Great War
A Swindon Corporation Tramways staff photo taken outside the Great Western Railway restaurant — photo undated, but given the presence of female employees, almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War. A shield-shaped municipal cap badge is clearly being worn by several of the individuals above, and possibly by the majority, given that the summer rain covers may well be obscuring them on several individual's caps. Almost everyone is also wearing a small, round badge on their jackets, possibly an 'On War Service' badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swindon Corporation Tramways tram driver and conductorSwindon Corporation Tramways
A blow-up of the above photo, clearly showing the 'S C T' collar initials and employee numbers, as well as the small, shield-shaped municipal badge worn above the standard script-lettering cap badge (right).


Swindon Corporation Tramways cap badge tram
Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering grade badges of the type used by Swindon as cap badges — brass. Author'sCollection.


Swindon Corporation Tramways staff photo
A staff photo taken in 1924 on the day of Swindon Carnival. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swindon Corporation Tramways tram drivers and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo showing three conductors and four motormen. Two are wearing the small municipal cap badge above their script-lettering badges, whilst four are not.


Swindon Corproation Cap badge
Small Swindon shield cap badge — brass, but without the motto ribbon, which the photos appear to show. The above badge may therefore pre-date the tramway as the civic motto was only granted in 1901.


Swindon Corporation Tramways Transport conductors
A group of Swindon conductors (it is uncertain if they are tramway or bus) — photo undated, but possibly taken in the late 1920s or shortly after closure. With the exception of the figure on the right, who is possibly either a bus driver or motorcycle rider, all are wearing the previously noted municipal cap badge above their 'Conductor' script-lettering grade badges. The individuals on the extreme left and right of the photo are also wearing small, round licences, almost certainly the same as those depicted below. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Swindon Corporation Tramways Transport conductor's licence
Possible tramway conductor licence — black on white enamel. These licences were probably only issued to conductors working the bus services, though individuals may well have worked across both these and tramway services.


Swindon Corporation Tramways Transport driver's licence
Possible tramway driver licence — black on white enamel. This is probably a bus driver's licence, so was almost certainly not worn by Swindon motormen.


Senior staff
A blow-up of the 1924 photograph above showing an inspector.


Female staff
Swindon Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductresses
A blow-up of the wartime photo above showing four conductresses. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.