Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways

Summary
Good quality images of DO&SNT motormen and conductors with their tramcars are surprisingly rare, however, all is not lost, as no fewer than four excellent staff photos have survived, an astonishing number for such a small system. These photographs allow for a fairly detailed understanding of the uniform chronology.

Throughout the entire life of the system (1908-1931), motormen wore double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom), and upright collars. In the early years, the right-hand collars appear to have carried metal letters ending in '…T Co', so they were probably system initials, i.e. 'D & O T Co' or 'D O & S N T Co', even though no such company existed, as the system was in fact operated on behalf of the various local authorties by the National Electric Construction Company.

Conductors were initially issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons and lapels; curiously, the latter do not appear to have routinely carried insignia, though odd individuals certainly wore them (on the bearer's right-hand collar). At some point, probably in the mid 1920s, a change was made (for conductors only) to single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures), upright collars and epaulettes (again with button closures); some photos show conductors wearing 'D & O T…' initials on their left-hand collars, however, the vast majority appear to have been left plain, as were the epaulettes. Caps for both grades were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top); they carried a standard, 'off the shelf', script-lettering grade badge, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor'. It is currently unclear whether the badges and buttons were brass or nickel.

Tramcar crews were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars; no badges of any kind appear to have been worn.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets edged in a finer material than the main body, with hidden buttons - or an hook and eye affair - two slit breast pockets and upright collars; the latter carried the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. At some point, probably in the 1920s, epaulettes were added to the jackets. Caps were initially in a kepi-style with a pom pom on top, later being changed to a more modern military style with a tensioned crown (top), probably around the time of the Great War; both styles carried the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering, probably on a hat band.

In common with the vast majority of UK Tramway systems, women were employed as conductresses during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. Photographs of these ladies are however yet to surface, so until they do, details of the uniforms they wore remain unknown.

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

Images

Motormen and conductors
Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways Church Street tram depot
Staff photo taken at the depot in Church Street, Ossett - photo undated, but probably taken a few years after the opening in 1908. Author's collection.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways conductors and motormen
A blow-up of the above photo showing several conductors (in double-breasted jackets with lapels) and a motorman (top right, in double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunic). The cap badges are standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges: 'Motorman' and 'Conductor'.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges - Motorman and Conductor - of the type used by Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways. It is currently unknown whether the company issued them in brass or nickel.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways staff photo
Another staff photo taken at Church Street depot, but probably a little later than the previous shot, but certainly before the Great War. Source unknown.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways conductor motormen driver
A blow-up of the above shot showing two conductors (in the centre on the middle and back rows) and three motormen (in 'lancer-style tunics). Although difficult to make out, the motormen certainly have initials on their respective right-hand collars, ending in 'Co'. Curiously, most conductors in the photo appear to have plain collars, the individual in the centre on the back row (above) being the exception.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways staff photo
An assemblage of three inspectors, two motormen, two conductors, fitters and clerical staff at Church Rd depot - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. Author's collection.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways tram conductor
A blow-up of the photo above showing one of the conductors, who by this time were now wearing single-breasted jackets with upright collars, his left-hand collar carrying individual system initials: 'D & O T…'. Of the other three tramcar crew, one appears to have the same collar designation, whereas the remaining two have plain collars.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways Church Street tram depot photograph
Another Church St depot shot, this one probably taken in the 1930s, shortly before closure. Author's collection.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways conductors and motormen
A blow-up of the above photo showing several conductors (now in single-breasted jackets) and motormen (in double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics). In contrast to the previous photo, none of those depicted have collar badges.


Senior staff
Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways Inspector
A blow-up of the early staff photo above, showing one of the inspectors. He is wearing a fairly standard tramway inspector's jacket with his grade (presumably) embroidered on his right-hand collar (and possibly the left too), along with a kepi-style cap with pom pom on top, also with the grade embroidered.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways Inspector
A blow-up of the pre-Great War photo above showing one of the inspectors, in very similar uniform, but now with a more modern military-style cap.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the late 1920s staff photo above, showing one of the inspectors. The collars and the military-style cap all bear the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering.


Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the 1930s photo above showing one of the inspectors, possibly the same individual in the previous photo. His jacket now bears epaulettes.