Stockton Tramways

Stockton's standard-gauge steam tramway opened for business in November 1881 (the exact date appears not to have been recorded). The main line ran southwards from Norton to Stockton, turning eastwards to cross the River Tees — via Victoria Bridge — to a terminus at the Harewood Arms in South Stockton (now known as Thornaby). Two branches were also constructed — one westwards from Stockton High St to the North Eastern Railway station, and the other westwards from Stockton High St along Yarm Lane to St Peters Church. The latter extensions took the system to its final size of circa 4.75 route miles.

The tramway passed through three separate owners over the course of its 16-year existence. The first owner — the Stockton and Darlington Steam Tramways Company (1880 to 1893) — operated steam trams in Stockton, though it never did so in Darlington (which was physically unconnected to the Stockton system), relying solely upon horse traction there. Following a period in voluntary liquidation, the S&DSTCo was restructured as the Stockton and District Tramways Company, before passing into the hands of the grandly titled Imperial Tramways Company Limited in 1896, a concern which owned several tramways throughout the British Isles, and whose express intention was to electrify the system, which it eventually opened in 1898, the steam tramways closing in October of the previous year.

The photographic record is unfortunately rather poor, but does show that drivers wore typical railway-footplate like attire, comprising cotton jackets and trousers, along with cotton or grease-top caps. Conductors simply wore informal but smart attire: jacket, trousers, shirt and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, invariably the bowler hat. No badges of any description appear to have been worn on either the jackets or the hats.

Photographs of inspectors are unknown, so it is currently impossible to say if they wore company uniforms or insignia, or indeed, whether the company even employed them at all.

Further reading
For more information on Stockton's steam tramway, see: 'A History of the British Steam Tram — Volume 5' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon Publishing (2008)


Steam Tram drivers and conductors
Stockton and Darlington Steam Tramways engine and trailers outside the Grey Horse Inn
Merryweather-built steam tram and two Starbuck trailers stand outside the Grey Horse Inn, Stockton — photo purportedly taken around 1887. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Stockton and Darlington Steam Tramways engine and trailers outside the Grey Horse Inn
A blow-up of the above photo showing two conductors, both of whom are wearing informal attire, along with bowler hats.