Croydon Corporation Tramways

From its opening in January 1900 through to June 1906, the operation of Croydon Corporation Tramways was leased to the British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. Photos taken of electric tramcar staff during this period clearly show them wearing the familiar and largely regulation BET uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BET systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern. Photographic evidence suggests that this policy was not however extended to horsecar staff, who instead continued to wear informal attire up until the last cars ran in early 1902 (see link).

The tunics issued to Croydon staff were double-breasted, with two rows of four buttons, three pockets at waist level, and lapels; the latter carried individual embroidered letters on both sides, most likely 'C.C.T'. Caps were in a military style with a glossy peak, and carried the standard brass BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below), below which was an employee number, presumably also in brass (this was standard BET practice). BET did not however see fit to use employee numbers on its other two London systems (Metropolitan Electric Tramways and South Metropolitan Electric Tramways) so it could be that this was actually a requirement of the owners, Croydon Corporation. Although this style of double-breasted uniform - with its distinctly naval appearance - was relatively quickly superseded on the vast majority of BET systems, this had not happened by the time of the corporation take-over in 1906.

Following the take-over, staff continued to wear very similar, if not identical double-breasted jackets, but with brass Croydon Corporation Tramways buttons (see link). Caps also followed previous practice, being military in style with an employee number (in brass numerals), but with the BET 'Magnet & Wheel' badge replaced by an elaborate cap badge consisting of a municipal shield and motto surrounded by a wreath, all above the full department title: 'Croydon Corporation Tramways'.

Tramcar staff in both the BET and municipal eras always appeared in service with a Metropolitan Public Service Vehicle badge (see link), usually worn on the left breast. They were also issued with heavy double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and lapels; the latter carrying embroidered 'C.C.T' initials.

Female staff were employed in significant numbers during the Great War (from late 1915 onwards), and were issued with tailored single-breasted jackets with five buttons, high fold-over collars and a waist belt (with button fastening), along with a medium-length matching skirt and lace-up gaiters; the collars bore 'C.C.T' in prominent embroidered letters. Headgear was a dark-coloured, wide-brimmed bonnet, to which a standard municipal cap badge was affixed (on a hat band), and above which an employee number (in brass numerals) was worn.

In the early days, inspectors wore uniforms which followed standard BET practice, namely, a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons and upright collars, the latter carrying the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. The cap bore a hat band with the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' badge, along with 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Similar uniforms appear to have been worn during the municipal period but with a metal script-lettering 'Inspector' badge; the municipal cap badge was worn above this.


Staff photo, more than likely taken to commemorate the opening of the system in January 1900. All staff sport the standard BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge, worn above a staff number (for lower grades) or an embroidered ‘Inspector’ badge. Inspectors are seated on the second row (wearing jackets with hidden buttons) whilst the front row comprises eight very youthful looking employees, possibly Points Boys. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Blow-up of the above photo showing three members of staff (motormen or conductors). Although the insignia are difficult to make out, it is nevertheless possible to discern that employee numbers are being worn beneath the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.

Standard British Electric Traction Company Limited ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge.

A BET motorman poses aboard Tramcar No 46 - photo undated, but very probably in the first few years of operation. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.

A studio portrait of two Croydon Corporation Tramways employees (Numbers 101 and 76), taken some time after 1906. Both sport the standard ‘Corporation’ cap badge (see below), worn above individual staff numbers. The figure on the right has a round badge of some description, worn in his left lapel. The significance of the maple leaf is uncertain, but may be something to do with commemorating the Boer War, and in particular, the Canadian volunteers. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Corporation-era cap badge - brass

Corporation-era Motorman Number 195 wearing what appears to be a home-made employee number, as well as a metropolitan licence, which is always evident in photos of 'on service' tramcar staff. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Motorman poses aboard Tramcar No 31 - date and location unknown, but possibly not long after the corporation takeover. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.

Conductress and motorman pose aboard Tramcar No 17 at the terminus at Penge - photo undated but certainly taken during the Great War or very shortly thereafter. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.

A Points Boy (with points iron) walks ahead of Tramcar No 73 - location and date unknown, but probably Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.

Croydon Corporation Tramways Band, photo taken after the Corporation take over. Note that some staff are wearing employee numbers whilst others are not. The bowler-hatted figure in the centre is the same dapper gentleman who appears with the Cricket Team in BET days (see below). With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Croydon Corporation Tramways staff - most probably the cricket team - sometime between 1900 and 1906. The gentleman in the centre is very probably the General Manager, whilst the sole uniformed member of staff is an inspector. He also appears on the preceding band photo. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Photo of a BET Inspector (taken from the above photo), clearly showing his BET cap badge and embroidered ‘Inspector’ badges, beneath the cap badge and on the upright collars. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

A BET inspector at the controls of Tramcar No 10 in London Rd south of Norbury - photo undated but certainly before 1906. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.

The purpose and origin of the badge is unclear as it does not appear in photos - brass and blue enamel. With thanks to the LCC Tramways Trust Collection.