London County Council Tramways

Summary
London County Council began its tramway ownership journey in 1894 by serving notice to compulsorily purchase those lines of the London Street Tramways Company that would reach their 21-year expiry date the following year. Although these lines were immediately leased back to the LSTCo following purchase, the LCC actually had much bigger plans, namely, to control, electrify and operate all the tramway lines within its jurisdiction. It subsequently moved into tramway operation in 1899, when it purchased the London Tramways Company, finishing its acquisition spree in 1906 with London's last independent horse tramway operator, the London Southern Tramways Company. Perhaps surprisingly, although the LCC began electric services in May 1903, it wasn't until 11 years later (in August 1914) that it ran its last horse tram service.

The LCC began its operating career in 1899 by taking over the services of the erstwhile London Tramways Company, and quickly imposed a standard uniform policy across all the former company systems. Conductors were issued with dark-blue, double-breasted uniform jackets made of serge, with four pairs of buttons (carrying the standard LCC monogram — see link) and lapels, which were probably plain. Drivers on the other-hand were initially only issued with heavy-duty, double-breasted, greatcoats, though in later years (probably around the time of electrification), they were eventually issued with jackets too. The greatcoats were almost certainly changed to a lancer style at the same time as 'lancer-style' jackets were introduced for all tramwaymen (i.e., circa 1903/1904).

As far as headgear is concerned, horsecar drivers were issued with brown bowler hats, which bore a one-piece brass 'LCC' block initials cap badge; this badge has the feel of a 'stop gap', and was probably issued to other municipal employees as well. Conductors were issued with squat, soft-topped caps with a glossy peak; the caps carried a brass cap badge incorporating a wreath with script initials in the centre, possibly 'LCC'. This badge was identical in form to that used by the London Tramways Company, save for the initials in the centre. In later years, the initials were changed to 'LCCT', possibly at the same time the cloth 'LCCT' motormen's cap badges were introduced (see below).

At some point, and possibly to mark the introduction of the first electric services in 1903, motormen, horsecar drivers and conductors were issued with navy-blue, double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics made of navy-blue serge, having five pairs of buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and high fold-over collars; the latter were plain, i.e., they did not carry badges or insignia of any kind. Both jackets and trousers were embellished with red piping. Around the same time, caps appear to have been changed to a more contemporary military design with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top). Conductors continued to wear the brass wreath badge, though very probably subtly altered to include 'LCCT' in the centre; in contrast, motormen were issued with an oval cloth badge that bore 'LCC' initials above a 'T' with the grade ('MOTORMAN') beneath. Motormen (only) were also issued with long, double-breasted greatcoats with six pairs of buttons (narrowing slightly from top to bottom) and high, fold-over collars; the latter were again devoid of insignia. Although conductors were not issued with greatcoats, they were issued with lighter-weight jackets for use in summer.

Around the end of the Great War, a new brass, open-backed cap badge was introduced for motormen; like the cloth badges, this carried 'LCC' initials above a letter 'T' and the grade, 'MOTORMAN' (see below). Jackets were changed again in the 1920s, and whilst still double-breasted, and heavy duty, they now bore lapels.

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

Several studio portraits of more senior grades have survived, including regulators and inspectors. The jackets worn in the first year of operation (1899) appear to have been very similar to those worn by conductors, i.e., double-breasted with four pairs of buttons, the top pair being visible through the lapels; the latter being left plain. Caps were soft-topped with braiding on the peak, and a hat band of a lighter colour; the latter bore the same style of 'initials and wreath' cap badge worn by conductors. At some point, probably around 1900-1903, the jackets were changed to a new style, still double-breasted with four pairs of buttons and lapels, but with the latter now bearing embroidered ‘LCC’ letters on their upper portion (the collars); the buttons were now black horn. Standard peaked caps were introduced which bore cloth cap badges identical in form to those issued to motormen, but with the grade 'INSPECTOR' or 'REGULATOR', etc. These caps appear however not to have lasted long, soon being superseded by kepi-style caps, which carried the same cap badge as their predecessors.

After the end of the Great War, headwear reverted to standard peaked caps, and a new style of circular metal cap badge was introduced; these badges bore script 'LCCT' initials in the middle, with the grade around the outside. They were made in two materials, a dull grey metal ('TICKET INSPECTOR' and 'REGULATOR' are known) and gilt ('DISTRICT INSPECTOR' is known); badges for other grades no doubt existed too.

A few examples of an oval brass cap badge have also survived for the grade of 'ASSISTANT REGULATOR' (see below); it is currently unclear why this grade was issued with a different pattern of cap badge to other senior grades.

It seems highly likely that the most senior grades (e.g., District Inspector) wore more elaborate uniforms than inspectors and regulators; details are however elusive.

In common with the majority of tramway operators, the LCC employed women during the Great War (from the 30th November 1915) to replace male staff lost to the armed services, though only as conductresses. These ladies wore somewhat utilitarian, navy-blue, single-breasted jackets with five large buttons (possibly vulcanite or an equivalent), two large hip pockets and upright collars; the latter bore embroidered 'L C C' initials on both sides. The jacket was finished off with a leather belt, and a long matching linen skirt was also worn; this had a long seam down the front, and a vertical row of three buttons towards the bottom, offset to one side. Headgear comprised either a wide-brimmed straw or felt bonnet — presumably for summer and winter wear, respectively — bearing a hat band. Although no cap badge was worn, photos indicate that conductresses frequently wore regimental badges as a mark of support for loved ones away with the armed services.

A more elegant, single-breasted jacket appears to have been introduced around 1917; this was tailored and had lapels rather than upright collars. The collars continued to bear embroidered 'L C C' block initials. There is a possibility that these were actually winter uniforms rather than a later issue; the precise temporal relationship is unclear. Lightweight raincoats were also issued for summer wear, at least in the latter years of the war; these were light in colour, and were single-breasted with a matching belt (and button), and high, fold-over collars of a darker colour. The latter bore embroidered 'L C C' initials.

For a history of the undertaking, see: 'London County Council Tramways, Volumes 1 and 2 (South London and North London, respectively)' by E R Oakley; London Tramways History Group (1989 and 1991).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
london County Council Tramways horse tram driver
Horse tram driver, with leather apron and LCC-issued bowler hat, the latter with LCC block initials badge — photo undated. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


London County Council Tramways horse tram driver's cap badge
London County Council Tramways horse tram driver's cap badge — brass; potentially used between 1899 and 1914, the year last horsecar service was withdrawn. Photo courtesy of the Prof. David Hughes Collection.


London County Council Tramways horse tram driver
A studio portrait of a rather elderley looking LCC horse tram driver — photo undated, but as his greatcoat is in a 'lancer-style', it is probably mid-Edwardian. The photographer is Union Jack Studios, 61 Seven Sisters Road. Photo courtesy of the John Laking Collection.


London County Council Tramways horse tram no 124 and crew
The driver of No 124, captured for posterity with his charge outside Jews Row depot in 1903. The man leaning on the tram is probably an inspector or a regulator, given that he appears to have a pocket book inside his breast pocket. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


London County Council Tramways horse tram no 850 and crew
The crew of Horsecar No 850 pose outside a horsecar depot with a Greenwich to Elephant service — photo purportedly taken in 1904. The driver is George Darvill (thanks to his Great Great Grandson Matt Wallace for this information). The conductor is wearing a wreath-style cap badge (see below). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


London County Council tram conductor's cap badge
Possible conductor's cap badge — brass. This badge, or one with 'LCCT' rather than just 'LCC' seems to have been worn right the way through from 1899 to the takeover by the London passenger Transport Board in 1933. Author's Collection.


London County Council Horse tram Plumstead Abbey Wood
An unidentified horsecar on the Plumstead to Abbey Wood route — photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


London County Council Tramways horse tram and crew
A blow up of the above photo showing the driver and conductor, both of whom are wearing double-breasted 'lancer-style' coats with high, fold-over collars.


Cable tram drivers and conductors
London County Council Tramways cable tram no 928 and crew
Two drivers (probably) pose for the camera with Cable Tram No 928 — a converted horsecar — on the Streatham Village to Telford Avenue cable line, probably at Brixton Hill — photo undated, but probably taken in 1903/4 given the poor condition of the vehicle (No 928 was converted in 1898). Both men are wearing bowler hats (the man on the platform with an LCC initials cap badge) and long double-breasted overcoats. The man on the platform also has a licence on his right breast. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


London County Council cable tram and driver
Another shot of an LCC cable tram on the Streatham Village to Telford Avenue line, again undated, but possibly taken a little earlier than the preceding photo. The driver is wearing a double-breasted jacket with a prominent enamel PCO licence, and a bowler hat bearing the standard 'LCC' block initials cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Motormen and conductors
London County Council Tramways motorman
LCC Tramways motorman with military-style cap (with tensioned crown) and cloth badge — photo undated, but possibly taken in the mid-Edwardian era. The LCC monogram can clearly be made out on the buttons. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Lodon County Council Tramways motorman tram driver, Eastbourne Photographic Company
A Cart de Visite of an LCCT motorman — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-Edwardian era. The Eastbourne Photographic Company had premises at Clapham Common and Stoke Newington. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways staff, Holloway Depot
A staff photo taken outside Holloway Depot — photo undated, but probably mid-Edwardian era. Both motormen and conductors are wearing double-breasted tunics and military-style caps, the former with cloth cap badges and the latter with metal cap badges. The medals probably reflect Boer War service. Photo taken by W J Staples of Seven Sisters Road; courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Council Tramways tram drivers studio portrait
Studio portrait of two LCCT motormen in 'lancer-style' greatcoats with high, fold-over collars. Photo courtesy of the Geoff Caulton Collection.


London County Council Tramways tram driver Edwardian
A blow-up of the above photo showing the seated motorman with later period cloth cap badge.


London County Council Tramways motorman
LCC motorman with later military-style cap and cloth cap badge. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways motorman
LCC motorman with military-style cap and cloth cap badge. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


London County Council Tramways motorman and boy scout
A delightful studio portrait of an LCCT motorman and a very young boy, presumably his son, who despite being dressed like a scout, looks to be way too young for the organisation (the minimum age was 11 years at this time), though he may conceivably be a Wolf Cub. The photo is undated, but was probably taken during or shortly after the Great War. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways motorman and boy scout
A blow-up of the above photo showing details the cap and cap badge.


London County Council Tramways motorman's cap badge
LCC Motorman cap badge — brass. This badge appears to have been worn from around the end of the Great War through to 1933.


London County Council Tramways motorman
Motorman with military-style cap and later metal fretwork-style badge (see below) — photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways conductor
LCC conductor wearing a military style cap and wreath cap badge — photo undated, but probably taken around the time of the Great War. Note the prominent cash-bag buckle. With thanks to Richard Rosa.


Philip Charles Barker London County Council Tramways conductor
Conductor Philip Charles Barker, who was born in 1876 and died in 1922 — photo undated, but probably taken shortly after the Great War, when he would have been in his early forties. The initials in the centre of the badge are not the same as the badge shown above; they are probably 'LCCT' rather than 'LCC'. Photo courtesy of Chris Simmons.


Charles White London County Council Tramways conductor
Conductor Charles White - photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1920s. Photo courtesy of the descendants of Charles White, kindly supplied by Gwendoline Smith (nee Butler).


London County Council Tramways cashbag buckle
LCC cash-bag buckle. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Council Tramways 1035 crew
Motorman and conductor pose in front of Tramcar No 1035 on the Route 74 service to St Georges Church — photo taken between 21st September 1921 and 21st August 1923, during which time No 1035 carried Metropolitan Stage Carriage licence plate No 6816 (see tram bulkhead). With thanks to Dave Jones of the LCC Tramways Trust for the dating information. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways crew
Motorman and conductor pose for the camera aboard Tramcar No 554 at the Archway Tavern terminus in 1929. The difference in cap badge style between the motorman and the conductor is clearly seen. Photographer, H Nicol. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


London County Council Tramways crew
The crew of Tramcar No 1849 with a No 4 service — photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. Author's Collection.


Senior staff
London County Council Tramways inspectors or regulators
A staff photo which, in view of the pocket books, would appear to show a group of LCCT regulators or inspectors — photo undated, but probably taken in 1899 when the LCC began operating its own services. The subjects appear to be wearing the same style of cap badge as conductors, and in three of the four examples here, worn on a hat band. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


London County Council Tramways Regulaotr
LCC regulator with military-style cap and cloth cap badge — photo undated, though taken from a Victorian mantle mirror montage with several other photos dated 1901. With thanks to Nigel Lightfoot.


London County Council Tramways inspector
LCC inspector with later military-style cap, but still with cloth cap badge — photo undated, but possibly early-to-mid Edwardian. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


London County Council Tramways inspector
LCCT inspector with cloth cap badge — photo undated, but possibly in the mid-to-late Edwardian era. By this time a switch had clearly been made to kepi-style caps. The buttons are either black horn or black-coated brass. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways regulator cap badge
LCCT 'REGULATOR' badge — cloth. With thanks to the LCC Tramways Trust Collection. These cloth cap badges appear to have been worn from around 1900-1903 through to the end of the Great War.



London County Council Tramways District Inspector's badge
Cap badge, 'DISTRICT INSPECTOR' — brass. Probably worn from circa 1920 onwards. Photo courtesy of Stephen Howarth.


London County Council Tramways Ticket Inspector jacket badge
Cap badge, 'TICKET INSPECTOR' — grey metal. Probably worn from circa 1920 onwards. Source unknown.



Cap badge, 'REGULATOR' — grey metal. Probably worn from circa 1920 onwards. With acknowledgement to 'Wheels of London', Times Newspapers Ltd, 1972.


London County Council Tramways Assistant Regulator badge
LCCT 'ASSISTANT REGULATOR' badge — brass. Probably worn from circa 1920 onwards. With thanks to John Burford.


Female staff
London County Council Tramways Great War conductresses
A studio portrait of three LCC conductresses. The rather utilitarian nature of the uniforms is clearly seen, as are the LCC collar initials. None of the three ladies are wearing cap badges. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Counil Tramways Great War tram conductress
LCC Great War female employee, possibly a tramway conductress named Olivia. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductress
A studio portrait of an LCC conductress — photo undated, but certainly taken during the Great War. The only uniform insignia are the embroidered 'L C C' collar initials. The cap badge is almost certainly a military 'sweetheart' badge. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductress
A studio portrait of an LCCT Great War conductress. Author's Collection.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform and collar insignia.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductress
An LCC conductress called Violet, in what is possibly her winter uniform — photo dated 1917. The badge on her cap would appear to be a Canadian Expeditionary Force regimental cap badge (thanks to Jim Barker for this information), whilst the sweetheart badge on her tie appears to be a Queens Royal Regiment (West Surrey) cap badge. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductress
Another studio portrait of an LCC conductress — photo undated, but certainly taken during the Great War. The subject is wearing a regimental badge on her bonnet, which would appear to be a Royal Marine Light Infantry cap badge; the bonnet itself has been turned up at the sides, giving it a more fashionable feel. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.


London County Council Tramways Great War conductresses
A group of LCC conductresses in their summer raincoats — photo undated, but certainly taken during the Great War. Photographer Emberson of Wimbledon, Surbiton & Tooting. Photo courtesy of the LCC Tramways Trust Collection, with thanks to Dave Jones.