Douglas Southern Electric Tramways

Summary
The Douglas Southern Electric Tramways Limited (a subsidiary of the New General Traction Company Ltd) ran its first electric service in July 1896, and other than the Great War and the company's take-over by the Douglas Head Marine Drive Company (in 1926), it seems to have led a routine if seasonal existence. This situation was changed dramatically by the outbreak of the Second World War, and though the last tram of the summer season ran on the 15th September 1939, the line remained closed for the duration of the war and never reopened.

Fortunately, an excellent staff photo has survived which was very probably taken around the time of opening (summer 1896). This clearly shows that motormen and conductors wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of four metal buttons (of unknown pattern) and lapels; the jackets were completely devoid of insignia. Caps were military in style with a soft top and a material peak; they carried an embroidered hat band which appears not to have borne a badge of any kind, at least not one which can be made out on surviving photographs. The general style of jacket appears to have remained unchanged right through to the mid 1930s, with only the cap changing — at some point — to a military-style with tensioned crown (top), again without a badge of any kind. In the mid-1930s however, the jackets were changed to a pattern — still double-breasted and with lapels — but with two rows of three buttons that were clearly unreflective, i.e., non-metallic. The general look and feel was of a suit!

Inspectors wore identical jackets and caps to those issued to tramcar crews, except for a cap badge, which was probably cloth and included a wreath; the latter certainly bore something in the centre, possibly system initials or a symbol of some kind, though this cannot unfortunately be made out on surviving photographs.

Tramway services were suspended throughout the Great War, so the DSET never employed female staff.

For more information on the DSET, see: 'Douglas Head Marine Drive and Electric Tramway' by A M Goodwyn; Manx Electric Railway Society (1993), as well as 'Double Century' by Stan Basnett and Keith Pearson; Adam Gordon Publishing (1996).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Douglas Southern Electric Tramway staff photo taken at Little Ness Depot 1896
A very rare photo of what is almost certainly the entire uniformed staff of the DSET, lined up for the cameraman at the depot at Little Ness. Although undated, it seems very likely that it was taken around the time of opening (1896) or shortly thereafter. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramway motorman conductor 1896
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the men, presumably either conductors or motormen. The uniform is completely devoid of badges, and even the caps appear to have an embroidered hat band without a badge or grade designation of any kind.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramways Tramcar No 4
A motorman and an inspector (on the running board) with Tramcar No 4 — photo undated, but probably taken in the 1930s. The disc ('No 5'), which was placed on the dash by the inspector, indicates that there were five tramcars in operation. The location is uncertain, but may have been 'The Farm' loop. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramways tram driver 1930s
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, whose cap is plain, i.e., without a cap badge. The buttons, in contrast to the following photo, are metal.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramway Tram No 7 1939
Douglas Head Marine Drive tramcars (No 1 and No 7) at Douglas Head on the 30th May 1939. Photo by W A Camwell, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramways Tram No 7 and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman of Tramcar No 7 — Bobby Moore — in an almost suit-like uniform with plain, non-metallic buttons and devoid insignia. The cap is also badgeless.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramway Tram No 7
A conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 7 — photo undated, but certainly taken no earlier than 1936, when headlamps were fitted to the cars. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Douglas Southern Electric Tramways tram inspector
A blow-up of the Victorian staff photo above showing one of the two inspectors. His uniform is identical to those worn by the tramcar staff, other than for a cap badge, which would appear to be of embroidered cloth, with either initials or a symbol inside a wreath.


Douglas Southern Electric Tramways tram inspector
A blow-up of the 1930s shot of Tramcar No 4 above, showing a figure who is almost certainly an inspector. His cap bears the same type of badge seen in the Victorian shot above.


Douglas Southern Electric tramways Chief Inspector Harold Colquitt
A blow up the 1939 W A Camwell shot above showing Chief Inspector Harold Colquitt. He is wearing a plain, suit-like uniform, seemingly identical to that worn by the motorman in the same photograph.