Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Company

Summary
The Y(WR)TCo initially became a tramway operator by virtue of taking over its near neighbour - the Wakefield and District Light Railways Company - which had been running trams for some 9 months prior to this. The Y(WR)TCo appears to have simply adopted the W&DLR's uniform policy - as well as much else - lock stock and barrel (see link), limiting change to the system title, where this appeared (for example, on badges, buttons and tramcars).

Motormen and conductors were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons (see link), two breast pockets (with button closures), upright collars and epaulettes (again with button closures); the upright collars carried an employee number on both sides in individual metal numerals, almost certainly brass. Photographs exist showing jackets without epaulettes, suggesting that these were not always specified. Caps were military in style and carried a large oval cap badge comprising a garter, within which was the full system title - 'Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Co Ltd' - surrounding, in the centre of the badge, the system's initials: 'Y(WR)ETCoLtd'. These cap badges were probably brass initially, but a switch was made to nickel at some point.

Tramcar crews were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with high, fold-over collars and epaulettes (with button closures); they do not appear to have carried any insignia.

A new 'West Riding' device was introduced in 1924, which from then on was applied to tramcars (see below). Photographs however only rarely show tramcar crews wearing cap badges with the new device, suggesting that they were probably only issued to new employees or men who for whatever reason needed a replacement badge

Inspectors wore fairly standard tramway inspector attire, namely, single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), edged with material of a finer quality than the main garment, two breast pockets (with button closures) and upright collars. The latter probably bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering, though this cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs. Caps were iinitially in the kepi-style and bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering, probably on a hat band. By 1912 at the latest, and possibly much earlier, the kepi-style caps had been replaced by more modern military-style issues.

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 are rare, but the few that have survived suggest these ladies wore tailored, single-breasted jackets with epaulettes and lapels, though it is currently unclear what insignia, if any, were carried on the jackets. Headgear possibly took the form of a felt bonnet, which may have carried the standard company cap badge, though this is far from clear.

For a detailed history of the Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways, see 'The Tramways of Dewsbury and Wakefield' by W Pickles; Light Rail Transit Association (1980).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Tram No 41 at the Bull Ring and crew
Conductor and motorman on the platform of Tramcar No 41 at the Bull Ring, Wakefield - 1907. The distinctively shaped Y(WR)ETCo cap badge is easily seen, whilst magnification reveals the collar insignia to be employee numbers (on both sides). Author's collection.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways cap badge
Y(WR)ETCo Ltd cap badge - nickel. This badge appears to have been worn from 1905/6 right through to the end of operations (1932), even though a new 'West Riding' device (see later) was introduced from 1924 onwards. Author's collection.


Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Tram conductor
A studio portrait of a conductor, almost certainly a Y(WR)ETCo employee (No 90), though there is a slight possibility that it was taken in Wakefield and District Light Railways Company days. Author's collection.


Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform. The cash-bag buckle would appear to bear a design, probably incorporating the company's name and a device or monogram.


Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Tram No 66 at Sandal and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 66 pose for the cameraman at the terminus at Sandal, sometime between 1906, when No 66 was delivered, and 1912/13, when it was top covered. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Council (see link).


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Tramcar No 47 at Sowood Lane depot, Ossett
The crew of Tramcar No 47 at Sowood Lane depot, Ossett - photo dated 1910. Author's collection.


Yorkshire (West Riding) electric Tramways staff - Wheldon Lane Depot
Staff photo taken at Wheldon Lane Depot, Castlefield - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Council (see link).


Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways conductor Edward Jay 1921
Conductor Edward Jay photographed outside East Street, behind Pontefract Barracks, on his first day on the trams (aged 14 years) in 1921. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Council (see link).


orkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Tram No 21? and crew
Motorman and conductor at the terminus in Pontefract - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s. Author's collection.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Tram No 34
Y(WR)ETCo Tramcar No 34 captured at the Bull Ring, Wakefield, by the camera of M J O'Connor in 1932. Although the tramcar carries the later 'West Riding' device, the motorman is clearly wearing the standard oval cap badge. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways cap badge
Later style cap badge - nickel. Although this new device was introduced in 1924, the relative paucity of photographs showing staff wearing them, suggests that they were probably only issued to new employees or men who needed a replacement badge. Author's collection.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Tram No 39
Another shot taken in the Bull Ring, Wakefield by M J O'Connor in 1932, possibly on the same day as the shot of No 34 above. Note the West Riding device on the tramcar's waist panel. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Tram No 39
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman in full-length leather apron.


Senior staff
orkshire West Riding Electric Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the photograph of Tramcar No 41 above - taken in 1907 - showing an inspector in kepi-style cap.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways inspectors
A blow-up of the Wheldon Rd Depot photo above showing two of the inspectors. By this time (circa 1912), the rather old-fashioned kepis had been replaced with more modern military-style caps. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Council (see link).


Female staff
Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Great War tram conductress
A rare photograph of a Y(WR)ETCo conductress on the platform of an unidentified tramcar bound for Normanton - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. The conductress appears to be wearing a single-breasted jacket with lapels and epaulettes, along with a felt bonnet; the latter possibly carrying the standard company cap badge.


Yorkshire West Riding Electric Tramways Great War tram conductress
A portrait of a Great War tram conductress from a studio in Wakefield. Neither the coat nor the beanie-style hat bear insignia of any kind; even the coat buttons appear to be plain composite, strongly suggesting that the garment is the subject's own, rather than company issued.