Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways

Summary
The Weston-super-Mare and District Electric Supply Co Ltd was a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. The photos, although lacking in detail and clarity, strongly suggest that Weston staff wore the familiar and largely regulation BET uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BET systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern.

The first jackets were of a double-breasted design (dark blue), with two rows of five buttons and high lapels/collars; the latter carried 'WSMT' initials in embroidered lettering. Trousers were also in blue and bore red piping down the sides. Caps were military in style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top), and carried a standard brass BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below) above an employee number, almost certainly all in brass.

At some point in the first ten years of operation, the double-breasted jackets appear to have been superseded. Generally, conductors wore single-breasted tunics with five buttons, breast pockets, and upright collars, whilst motormen wore double-breasted cross-over style tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars. The latter almost certainly bore individual metal letters on the right-hand side - probably WSMT - and an employee number on the left-hand side, all of which would have been in brass. Unfortunately these cannot be made out on any of the photos that I've seen. A further change was made in the 1920s with motormen in particular switching to double-breasted, naval-style jackets with lapels.

Staff were also issued with long double-breasted overcoats.

In the summer months, use was made of depot and seasonal staff, particularly as conductors. These employees appear to have been issued with whatever was to hand, but often wore long white dustcoats.

In the early days, the sole inspector most probably wore a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons and upright collars with ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering (this was standard BET practice). The ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge was also worn, but with a script-lettering embroidered ‘Inspector’ badge in place of an employee number. In later years, the company made extensive use of 'jumping inspectors' (temporary roaming inspectors) during the summer months; these individuals wore normal uniforms, but with the addition of a metal script-lettering cap badge in place of the employee number.

Female staff were almost certainly employed during the Great War, but details of uniforms are unknown.

In 1904, the company had only five conductors/motormen and a solitary inspector.

For a history of the system, see: 'Weston-super-Mare Tramways' by C Maggs; The Oakwood Press (1974).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways crew 1902
Conductor and motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 9, photographed at the Sanatorium in 1902. Author's collection. Both men are wearing military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops) with the standard British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, worn above an employee number.


Weston super Mare tramways cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass



Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 2 at the Sanatorium - photo undated but probably taken in the second decade of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.




Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 6 on a service to Old Pier - photo undated but possibly taken in the 1920s. The conductor is wearing a baggy cap, suggesting that he may have been a depot employee acting as a crewman or a seasonal member of staff, both of which were routine practice in the busy summer months. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.



Motorman and conductor aboard Tramcar No 14, an open-sided Brush cross-bench car, with a service to Old Pier - photo undated but probably taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The motorman is wearing a double-breasted naval-style jacket with lapels, whilst the conductor wears a white dustcoat, suggesting that he may have been a seasonal employee. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff

An inspector, clearly wearing a standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, as well as a script-lettering 'Inspector' badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.



Script-lettering 'Inspector' cap badge - brass.