West Metropolitan Tramways Company

Summary
The West Metropolitan Tramways Company operated horse cars for approximately twelve years, from March 1882 through to 1894, when its assets were bought from receivership by the newly formed London United Tramways Company Ltd.

In common with many horse tramway operators, the WMTCo does not appear to have issued its drivers with uniforms. The situation with respect to conductors is however much less clear, as photographs which show them, and which can be firmly dated to this era, appear not to have survived (the LUTCo continued to operate horsecar services for many years after the demise of the WMTCo). A metal script-lettering badge — 'WMTCo' — has however survived; this has standard lug fittings, suggesting that it was either affixed to a cap or possibly to a jacket. It is very tempting — given the absence of photographic evidence — to suggest that this script-lettering badge is a conductor's cap badge, and that conductors were therefore issued with company caps.

The one clear photograph that has survived (see below) suggests that horsecar drivers wore informal but smart attire, namely, heavy-duty jackets, shirts and ties, along with the ubiquitous bowler hat. This photograph clearly shows one individual wearing a cap badge on his bowler hat, a practice only employed elsewhere by the London County Council Tramways. Indeed, an example of a 'bowler hat' WMTCo cap badge has survived, which comprises an embroidered cloth oval mounted on an elasticated band, presumably to attach it to whatever hat the user was wearing. This example is for a 'Chief Inspector', so it seems more than reasonable to assume that other senior grades also wore these badges, for example, inspectors. Whether this approach extended down to drivers and conductors is currently unclear, and certainly no cloth badges for these grades have survived.

For a history of the West Metropolitan Tramways Company, see: 'London United Tramways Volume 1' by C S Smeeton; Light Rail Transit Association (1995).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
West Metropolitan - 2 RED
West Metropolitan Horsecar No 10 posed at The Lawn, Shepherds Bush, and though not clear on this copy, it can be dated to between 1891 to 1894 by the name of the manager — R R Fairbairn — on the rocker panel (lower right). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Crew of West Metropolitan Tramways horse car No 10
A blow-up of the above photo showing the two men on the driver's platform, both of whom are smartly attired. The man on the step is probably an inspector, as he appears to be wearing an oval cap badge very similar to the 'Chief Inspector' example shown below.


West Metropolitan Tramways cap badge
Cap/lapel badge — brass. It is unclear what this badge was used for, but given the paucity of photographic evidence, it may well have been worn by conductors. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Senior staff
West Metropolitan Tramways Chief Inspector cap badge
Chief Inspector cap badge — cloth on an elastic hat band. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.