Upper Douglas Tramway

The Upper Douglas Tramway, which was opened on the 15th August 1896 was a short, 3ft 0in-gauge, 1.57 mile long, cable tramway owned and operated by the Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Co Ltd. The IoMT&EPCoLtd also owned the Douglas and Laxey Coast Electric Tramway and the Douglas Bay Tramway, but its affairs were intimately entangled with a local bank, which collapsed in 1901, taking the company with it. The tramway was bought from the liquidators by Douglas Corporation in January 1902, and they continued to run it up until its closure in 1929.

Photographs depicting staff of the Upper Douglas Tramway are extremely rare, with those few that have survived overwhelming stemming from the late 1890s and early 1900s. These photos clearly show that drivers did not wear uniforms either in the days of the IoMT&EPCoLtd (1896 to 1901) or the early years of Corporation ownership, a situation which also reflects that on its sister system, the Douglas Bay Tramway (see link). Drivers therefore wore informal attire, with the sole nod to officialdom being a small oval armband (a licence), white on blue enamel, with 'CORPORATION TRAM DRIVER' around the circumference, with a number in the centre (see below for an example). It would appear that conductors were not required to wear armbands, though the photographic evidence is hardly conclusive.

The situation with respect to conductors is less clear, but it is possible that under the IofMT&EPCo, conductors may have been issued with kepis bearing a large, brass, oval cap badge, as their counterparts on the Douglas and Laxey Coast Electric Tramways certainly wore these. The badge comprised open (fretwork style) letters: 'IOMT' at the top and 'EPCoLD,' at the bottom and a large '&' in the centre (see below), all in brass.

Following the corporation take-over, informal attire was initially worn. Although photographic evidence is currently lacking, it does seem likely that from the mid-Edwardian era onwards, that staff would have been issued with the same uniforms as their colleagues working the horse trams (see link).

Further reading
For a history of the Upper Douglas Tramway, see: 'Double Century' by Stan Basnett and Keith Pearson; Adam Gordon Publishing (1996).


Cable tram drivers and conductors
Upper Douglas Tramway Cable tram 1896 Avondale
A very smart looking Tramcar No 73 stands at Avondale — photo undated, but almost certainly taken in 1896 or 1897, i.e., in IoMT&EPCoLtd. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.

Upper Douglas Tramway Tramcar and crew 1896
A blow-up of the above photo showing the car and crew. Although it is difficult to be sure who is a passenger and who is a tramwayman, it does suggest that uniforms were not worn.

Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Company Limited cap badge Manx Electric Railway
A brass IofMT&EPCo cap badge, possibly worn by Upper Douglas Tramway conductors between 1896 and 1901/2. The badge is held in the Manx Museum. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.

Upper Douglas Cable Tram No 77 in 1903
A rather tatty, open-sided Tramcar No 77 stands in York Rd in 1903, just before its conversion into a saloon. Both men would by this time have been Corporation employees, but as yet there is no sign of uniforms. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.

Upper Douglas cable tramway tram driver 1903
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver; he is wearing informal attire, supplemented with what would appear to be an enamel armband, almost certainly a licence of some kind.

Douglas Corporation oval tram drivers licence
An oval driver's licence — white on blue enamel — possibly worn from around 1896 to closure in 1929. The badge is held in the Manx Museum. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.

Upper Douglas Tramway cable tram conductor 1903
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor, who is, like his colleague, wearing informal attire.