Dewsbury, Batley and Birstal Tramway

Summary
Photographs of the Dewsbury, Batley and Birstal Tramway in its horse-drawn days (1874-1881) appear not to have survived, so it is impossible to know for certain whether uniforms were issued or not; however, given that they were certainly not worn in the subsequent steam era, it is highly likely that staff simply wore smart but robust informal attire comprising trousers, jacket, and the fashionable headgear of the day, at this time the ubiquitous bowler hat.

The photographic record for the steam-hauled era (1880-1905) is fortunately extremely rich, and clearly shows that drivers wore railway footplate-like attire: cotton jackets and trousers, with greasetop or heavy cotton caps. Conductors wore smart but informal attire, along with bowler hats, and later on, flat caps; no badges or licences of any kind were carried. Although, a single photograph is known (not shown) which appears to show a conductor wearing a cap badge, this is probably spurious (a trick of the light) as no other photograph shows this (from any era) and they are numerous.

Photographs of inspectors appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to say whether or not they wore uniforms.

Surviving records show that at the end of 1903, the concern employed a total of 23 drivers and conductors, and 2 inspectors (see 'The History of the British Steam Tram Volume 3' by D Gladwin; Adam Gordon Publishing [2007]).

For a detailed history of the Dewsbury, Batley and Birstall Tramway, see 'The Tramways of Dewsbury and Wakefield' by W Pickles; Light Rail Transit Association (1980).

Images

Steam Tram drivers and conductors
Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram  and Trailer
An unidentified steam tram with Trailer No 9 - photo undated, but possibly taken in the mid 1880s.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall conductor 1880s
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who is wearing smart but informal attire, and is demonstrating the Kayes 'Patent' Fare Box.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram  and Trailer
Merryweather steam tram and Trailer No 2 - photo taken around 1885. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing railway footplate-like attire.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor. He is wearing informal but smart attire, with a typical bowler hat of the period, with upturned brim.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram No 5
A somewhat shabby Steam Tram No 5 and its much more presentatable trailer (No 3), an ex-horsecar - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1880s (all the engines of this class had been withdrawn by 1893).


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram No 7
The driver and conductor of DB&BT Steam Tram No 7 pose for the cameraman at Northgate terminus in 1891.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram No 7 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew. The driver's clothing betrays the filthy nature of the work.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Steam Tram trailer
A busy street scene showing Trailer No 6 with the conductor hanging from the rear platform - photo undated, but very probably taken late in the tramway's life, i.e. in the early 20th Century. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Tramway conductor
Blow-up of the above photo, which shows that the conductor is wearing informal attire.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Tramway Steam tram 1905
Several crews pose for the cameraman with an undentified steam tram and a noticeably 'hogged-backed' trailer, suggesting that the company were employing a 'make do and mend' approach to maintenance, and thus, that the photograph was probably taken very late in the tramway's life, possibly in 1904/5.


Dewsbury Batley & Birstall Tramway steam tram crew
A blow-up of the above photograph showing four of the footplatemen, all of whom can only be described as incredibly filthy.