Dudley and Stourbridge Tramways
(including Kinver Light Railway)
Although photographs of steam-hauled services (in the days of the Dudley and Stourbridge Steam Tramways Company) are relatively uncommon, a few good quality examples have survived that depict the staff operating them (steam tram engine drivers and conductors). In common with the majority of UK steam-operated tramways, drivers wore very similar attire to their railway counterparts, namely, heavy cotton trousers and jackets, often light in colour, along with greaseproof or flat caps. No badges or insignia appear to have been worn on either the jackets or the caps. Conductors were issued with uniforms which comprised single-breasted jackets with lapels, and tall kepi-style caps. The latter bore a large cap badge of unknown pattern, which was probably oval in form and made of metal - no examples are currently known to have survived.
Although the tramway was taken over by the British Electric Traction Company (BETCo) in 1897, the latter appears to have been content to continue the policy of the predecessor company, only issuing new uniforms following electrification (under the auspices of the Dudley and Stourbridge District Electric Traction Company Limited). Over the course of its history, BETCo either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns in the British Isles, across which it largely imposed a standard uniform policy. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BETCo systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern. However, in the case of the BETCo's Black Country and Birmingham systems (see link), the parent company appears to have initially allowed each of its operating companies a degree of autonomy, and this was certainly reflected in the uniforms worn. Photos from this period show motormen and conductors in a variety of uniform jackets (double-breasted with lapels; single-breasted with upright collars) as well as informal attire; it is currently unclear whether the uniform jackets carried any insignia. Headgear appears initially to have been informal (flat caps), but later on, kepi-style caps appear to have become the norm; curiously, these did not carry the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge (see link), but instead may have carried some kind of grade designation, possibly embroidered, or even nothing at all, but certainly not a metal badge that would have shown up well on surviving photographs. Staff are frequently depicted wearing long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars; the latter carried company initials, probably in individual brass letters - 'DSDET' - though the precise letters cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs.
From the 1st July 1904, shares in all the BETCo's Black Country and Birmingham companies were transferred to the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co Ltd, all systems subsequently being operated by a newly formed body called the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee. At some point afterwards, it is unclear exactly when, a standard uniform policy was imposed across all the member companies, including the DS&DETCo. Motormen and conductors were issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons (almost certainly the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' pattern - see link) and high, fold-over collars; the latter carried individual metal initials - either 'B M T' or 'B & M T' - on the right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side, almost certainly in brass. Surviving examples suggest that the first collar badges may have had diagonal striations giving a rope effect (see below). Caps were initially in the kepi style, and carried a prominent oval brass cap badge that consisted of intertwined 'BMT' initials beneath the 'Magnet and Wheel' device, all within a wreath (see below).
At some point prior to the Great War, caps were changed to an upright military style, though they continued to carry the same cap badge. Jackets varied subtly in style across the decades, always double-breasted, but sometimes with four buttons and sometimes five, and with three waist-level pockets. The jackets could be worn open at the neck giving the effect of lapels or buttoned up; the collar insignia remained unchanged throughout the life of the tramway. Double-breasted overcoats were also issued; these had high, fold-over collars that carried the same badges as the jackets worn underneath.
Photographs of inspectors suggest that they wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and upright collars; the latter probably carried an embroidered grade badge - 'Inspector' - though this cannot be stated with certainty. Caps were initially in the kepi style but were later on changed to the upright military variety; these may have carried an embroidered grade badge, though once again this is unclear.
Female staff were undoubtedly employed in significant numbers during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services - photographic evidence is however currently lacking, so it is not possible to say what uniforms were worn.
Steam tram drivers and conductors
Kitson Steam Tram No 5 and Trailer No 8 (a Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Works product) at Dudley Station terminus - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1880s. Note that there appear to be two crews present. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Blow-up of the engine above, showing the crew (plus extra man) in railway footplate attire, as well as one of the conductors.
Blow-up of Trailer No 8 above, showing two conductors with their pillbox-style caps, cap badges and uniform jackets.
Motormen and conductors
A rather battered looking DS&DETCo Tramcar No 18 - photo undated, but definitely taken no later than 1902, when this car was rebuilt as a double-deck vehicle. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps that do not carry the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman. His kepi-style cap seems to be devoid of insignia, though it may possibly be embroidered, whilst the collar initials would appear to be DSDET, though this is not certain.
Dudley and Stourbridge conductor stands before a decorated front-exit tramcar during Brierley Hill Hospital Carnival Week - photo undated, but possibly Edwardian. Author's collection.
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 6, probably on a Kinver Light Railway service - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s. Note that the conductor has no uniform, possibly indicating that he was seasonal or temporary. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee cap badge - brass. This would have been used from 1904 onwards when the Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Co Ltd (also owner of the Kinver Light Railway) became part of the B&MTJC. Note the use of the British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet and Wheel' symbol; the BETCo controlled the B&MTJC and all its constituent tramway companies.
Probable Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee early 'rope effect' collar initials and collar number. Author's Collection.
The crew of a rather dirty-looking Tramcar No 6 pose for the cameraman at Kinver Station - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.
The crew of Dudley and Stourbridge Electric Tramways No 57 pose for the camera at the Fish Inn terminus of the Kinver Light Railway ion the 25th May 1929. Whilst the man on the left does not appear to be wearing a cap badge, the man in the car is certainly wearing the standard Birmingham and Midland Tramways cap badge. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.
Dudley and Stourbridge inspector stands before a decorated front-exit tramcar during Brierley Hill Hospital Carnival Week - photo undated, but possibly Edwardian. Author's collection.