Wigan Corporation Tramways

Summary
From the ouset of municipalised operation (1902 onwards), staff wore single-breasted tunics with five buttons (presumably brass - see link), two breast pockets with button closures, upright collars and epaulettes. The upright collars did not carry any badges, which seem instead to have been borne on the epaulettes; although the latter were clearly fastened at the neck end by a button, the precise form of the epaulette badges remains unclear. Somewhat surprisingly, the basic style of the uniforms does not appear to have altered over the entire 30-year existence of the tramway.

Caps were initially of the kepi type with a glossy peak, and bore a brass script-lettering badge - either ‘Conductor’ or ‘Motorman’ - above which, a small cap badge was worn. This almost certainly depicted Wigan Moot Hall - the central device on the Seal of Wigan - which was used prior to the grant of arms in 1922. Caps were changed at some point during the Edwardian period, possibly as early as 1904, to an upright military style; the new caps carried the same badges as the kepis. White rain covers were apparently compulsory between May 1st and September 30th.

Long great coats were also worn - these had two rows of four buttons and high fold-over collars, though in later years capes appear to have also been issued.

Conductresses, who were employed during the Great War, were issued with long skirts, and long single-breasted jackets with breast pockets (with button fastenings) and a waist belt. Round bonnets were worn; these probably bore the same badges as mentioned above, though photographic evidence is inconclusive.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and upright collars; it is possible that the collars carried the designation ‘Inspector’ in embroidered lettering. Kepi style caps were most probably worn in the early years, changing to the upright military pattern at the same time as the other tramcar staff. Although the brass badge show below - depicting WIgan Moot Hall within a wreath - is very likely to be an inspector's badge, photographic evidence is currently lacking. At least one female inspector was employed during the war, though surprisingly, they were never used as motormen.

A report conducted in 1910 reveals that Wigan Corporation Tramways Traffic Department had 9 clerks, 1 chief inspector, 7 inspectors, 61 motormen, 66 conductors, 6 pointsmen and 2 parcel boys.

In 1922, the County Borough of Wigan was officially granted its municipal arms, and photos taken in the mid 1920s onwards clearly show that the old script-lettering cap badges and ‘Moot Hall’ device had been replaced by a more elaborate badge, which presumably consisted of the new coat of arms within a wreath (see below).

For a detailed history of WIgan Corporation Tramways, as well as its steam and horse predecessors, see 'The Tramways of Wigan' by E K Stretch; Manchester Transport Museum Society (1978).

Images

Wigan Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 19 on the Boars Head route crew
Conductor and motorman pose aboard Tramcar No 19 on the Boar’s Head route - date unknown, but most probably taken within one or two years of the opening in 1902. Note that an epaulette badge or number is clearly visible on the motorman’s right shoulder. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps; although the precise form of the small badge worn above the script-lettering cap badge is unclear, it more than likely depicted Wigan Moot Hall. Author's collection.



General pattern motorman and conductor script-lettering cap badges (brass), as worn by Wigan staff during the early years of operation.


Wigan Corporation Tramways steam trailer no 7 and staff
Wigan Corporation Tramways staff pose with an unidentified steam tram and steam trailer No 7 outside Hindley Depot - photo undated, but more than likely taken to mark the end of steam services on 26th September 1904. Note that all the tramcar crew (drivers and conductors) appear to be wearing uniforms identical to their colleagues operating electric tramcar services, but with military style caps rather than kepis, suggesting that the latter had been replaced by 1904. The inspector (front left) is clearly wearing a large round badge, very probably the brass 'Moot Hall and Wreath; badge depicted below. With thanks to the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Wigan Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 90 and crew
Conductor and motorman pose for the camera on the last day of operation (28th March 1931) with Tramcar No 90 at the Abbey Lakes terminus. Note the larger municipal cap badge, introduced some time after 1922. With thanks to the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Wigan Corporation tramways late period cap badge
Late period cap badge - chrome. Wigan was formally granted these arms in 1922, so the cap badge cannot be earlier than this. If these badges were indeed issued from 1922 onwards, then they cannot have been in chrome as that material only began to be used for badges from the very late 1920s onwards (see link). This particular example belonged to Charles Makin, a Wigan Corporation Transport bus driver (see photo below).


Wigan Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 91 and crew
Conductor, informally attired, and motorman with Tramcar No 91 at the Abbey Lakes terminus - photo undated, but probably taken during the late 1920s. With thanks to the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Wigan Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 20 on the Aspull route crew
Conductress, inspector and motorman pose with Tramcar No 20 with a service for Aspull - photo undated, but almost certainly taking during the First World War. With thanks to the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice


Wigan Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 13 on the Aspull route crew
Another photo of a conductress and motorman on the Aspull route, but this time with a very battered looking Tramcar No 13 - photo undated, but clearly taken during or shortly after the First World War. Note that neither of the subjects appears to be wearing a cap badge. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Wigan Corporation tramways inspector's badge
Early period cap badge depicting Wigan Moot Hall - brass. This is most probably an inspector’s badge, though confirmation must await photographic evidence.



Bus driver No 46, Charles Makin (above right), owner of the late-period cap badge shown above - photo taken during the 1950s. Although long after the demise of the tramway, earlier photos (see above) clearly show tramway staff wearing the identical cap badge.