Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Tramways

Summary
The Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Tramways Company commenced horse-drawn services in 1883, but operated these for barely 30 months before the system was closed (in 1885) for conversion to steam traction. It re-opened in 1886, subsequently passing through the hands of three owners (Messrs Oppert and Fell; Midland Tramways Company Limited; and the Dudley and Wolverhampton Tramways Company Limited), before finally being purchased by the British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BETCo), as a prelude to electrification. Each newly converted section was operated by another of BETCo's local subsidiaries (the Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Co Ltd), prior to the setting up a new company — Wolverhampton and District Electric Tramways Limited — in February 1901. The final steam service ran later that month.

Photographs showing the early horse-drawn era (May 1883 to November 1885) appear not to have survived, whilst images showing staff working the subsequent steam services (under three different companies) are not exactly numerous either. However, by analogy with other horse-tramways in the UK, it seems very likely that horsecar drivers and conductors wore informal attire, a position supported by the successor steam services, where photographic evidence clearly shows that staff were not issued with uniforms.

In common with the majority of UK steam-operated tramways, drivers wore very similar attire to their railway counterparts, namely, cotton trousers and jackets, often light in colour, along with grease-top, cotton or flat caps. No badges or insignia were worn on either the jackets or the caps. Conductors wore informal but smart attire, jacket, trousers, shirt and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, either the bowler hat, or in later years, the flat cap.

Although the tramway was taken over by the British Electric Traction Company in 1899, the latter appears to have been content to continue with the policy of the predecessor companies, only issuing uniforms following electrification, i.e., under the auspices of the Wolverhampton and District Electric Tramways Company (see link), which it wholly owned.

Photographs of inspectors appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to say whether or not they wore uniforms or indeed, whether the company ever employed their services.

For more information on this system, see: 'A History of the British Steam Tram - Volume 3' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon Publishing (2007).

Images

Steam tram drivers and conductors
Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tramways steam tram No 1
Kitson Steam Tram No 1 and Starbuck-built Trailer No 4 at the Wolverhampton terminus in Temple Street. The crests are that of the Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Tramways Company, and the engine appears to be in quite good condition, so the photo was in all probability taken between 1886 and 1889.


Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tramways steam tram No 1
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, in light-coloured cotton jacket and cap (without cap badge), and a man who is in all probability his stoker.


Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tramways steam tram No 2
Steam Tram No 2 (a Kitson product) and Trailer No 4, this time captured in Sedgley near the Grand Junction public house. The crest is still that of the DS&WTCo, but this shot feels slightly later, possibly at the end of that company's tenure (i.e., 1889) or in the early days of the next incumbent, the Midland Tramways Co (1890). Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, in light-coloured cotton jacket and tight-fitting cloth cap.


Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tram stoker
Another blow-up, this time showing the individual at the back of the engine, almost certainly the stoker, again in a light-coloured jacket, but wearing what would appear to be a grease-top cap.


Dudley, Sedgley and Wolverhampton Steam Tram conductor
One last blow-up, unfortunately slightly out of focus, showing the conductor, who is clearly wearing smart but informal attire; no badges or licences are in evidence.


Dudley and Wolverhampton Tramways steam tram, Thomas Horton
Steam Tram No 3 and Trailer No 4 (yet again) in the Springhead loop between Sedgley and Fighting Cocks — photo undated, but almost certainly taken in the mid-to-late 1890s (the crest is that of the 'Dudley and Wolverhampton Tramways Company'). By this time, the top deck sides of Trailer No 4 had been enclosed. The driver, who is just visible in the engine cab, is supposedly a Mr Thomas Horton. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Dudley and Wolverhampton Tramways steam tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor (left), who is clearly in informal attire. Although at first glance he appears to be wearing a municipal licence, in all likelihood, this is a ticket punch.