Barking Town Urban District Council Tramways

Unfortunately, photos depicting crews and staff of Barking's rather ill-fated system are extremely rare, so what follows can only be described as tentative. Motormen appear to have worn single-breasted jackets with five buttons (bearing the full system title and a depiction of the town's Firebell Gate - see link), two breast pockets (with button closures), epaulettes and upright collars; it is currently unclear what insignia, if any, were carried on either the epaulettes or the collars. Conductors wore double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom). The uniforms were apparently of blue serge with red piping. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top), and bore a standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badge - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - above which a round municipal cap badge was worn, which bore the full system title - 'Barking Town U.D.C. Tramways' - around the town's Firebell Gate. Buttons and badges were brass. In later years, as the system struggled financially, uniform policy became ever more relaxed, with crews often appearing in flat caps.

Tramcar staff also wore great coats, which were double-breasted with high, fold-over collars and epaulettes; the latter appear to have borne insignia of some kind, though precisely what remains unclear.

Motormen and conductors always appeared in service wearing enamel Public Carriage Office licences issued by the Metropolitan Police (see link).

Photographs of inspectors are yet to come to light, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms they wore. The situation with female staff, who may have been employed during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services, is also unclear, with neither documentary nor photographic evidence available to confirm this either way.

For a history of the system, see: 'The Tramways of East London' by Rodinglea; The Tramway & Light Railway Society and The Light Railway Transport League (1967).


Motormen and conductors
Barking UDC Tramways 8 Loxford Bridge Poplar car Ilford car behind c1912CROP
Barking Tramcar No 8 at Loxford Bridge, with an Ilford Council Tramways vehicle in the background - photo undated, but probably taken around 1912. The photo probably depicts a crew from each system, with the Barking crew being second from the left (conductor) and extreme right (motorman); this is based on the fact that they clearly have a round badge above their script-lettering grade badges, unlike Ilford, whose staff simply wore script-lettering grade badges (see link). If correct, this would of mean that the individual at the helm of No 8 is actually an Ilford motorman, which was probably a switch done for the benefit of the cameraman, or the crews' amusement. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.

Barking Town Tramways cap badge
Barking Town UDC Tramways cap badge, showing the town's Firebell Gate - brass.

Barking UDC Tramways cap badges
Standard ‘off the shelf’, script-lettering cap badges of the type used by Barking UDC Tramways - brass.

Barking UD Tramways Trams 1 & 4 Jenkins Lane c1910
An errant Tramcar No 1, with Tramcar No 4 behind, pictured in Jenkins Lane - photo undated, but probably taken around 1910/11. The rescue team are very probably depot maintenance staff, though one (second from left) is clearly wearing a tramcar crewman's great coat. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to Eddie Dawes.

Barking Town Tramways Tram No 3 Bascule Bridge 1928
Barking Town UDC Tramways No 3 negotiates the Bascule Bridge on the 3rd November 1928. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Barking Town Tramways tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is wearing the standard, round, municipal cap badge, but without a script-lettering grade badge; his PCO licence is No 2749 'Stage Driver and Conductor - Mechanical Power'.