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 (BETCo), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. Surviving photos, although lacking in detail and clarity, strongly suggest that Weston staff wore the familiar and largely regulation BETCo uniform. 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.

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 BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below) above an employee number, almost certainly all in brass.

At some point in the first decade of operation, the double-breasted jackets were superseded by new designs. Generally, conductors wore single-breasted tunics with five buttons and a breast pocket (on the bearer's left-hand side), whilst motormen wore double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom); both styles of jacket had upright collars, which bore an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side, and system initials on the right-hand side, all presumably brass. It would seem that the system initials were changed at or around this time to 'W E T', which presumably stood for 'Weston-super-Mare Electric Tramways'; however, given that this seems to have given rise to a degree of mickey-taking in the town, it would appear that many individuals managed to procure extra letters, so that they could remain with 'W S M T'.

A further change was made in the style of the uniform in the last few years of the system's life, with motormen (at least) switching to double-breasted, naval-style jackets with lapels.

Staff were also issued with long double-breasted greatcoats.

In the summer months, extensive use was made of depot and seasonal staff, particularly as conductors. These employees appear to have been issued with whatever was to hand (in the way of spare uniforms), but often wore long light-coloured dust coats.

In the early days, the sole inspector wore a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or more than likely an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body, and with upright collars which carried the grade - Inspector - in embroidered script lettering (this was standard BETCo practice). The ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge was also worn, along with a script-lettering embroidered grade badge - Inspector - on a hat band. In later years in particular, 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 script-lettering 'Inspector' cap badge; these were initially embroidered, but in later years brass grade badges were used.

Female staff were employed during the Great War, but the one surviving photograph shows an individual wearing informal attire, so details of the uniform remain 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 Tram No 9 1902
A rather pristine-looking Tramcar No 9 pictured at the Sanatorium in 1902. Author's Collection.


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways crew 1902
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman, both of whom are wearing military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops) along 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.


Weston super Mare tram staff depot photo 1909
A lovely staff photo taken inside the main tramway depot around 1909. The conductors are wearing single-breasted jackets with upright collars, whilst the motormen are in double-breasted 'lancer-style' jackets, again with upright collars. Photo courtesy of the North Somerset Council and South West Heritage Trust, 2018.


Weston super Mare tram staff CONDS
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the staff, both presumably conductors. The system initials borne on the right-hand collar of the man on the right are 'W S M T', whereas his colleague's are the more usual 'W E T'. The latter were apparently the butt of many local jokes, so it would seem that some creativity was allowed! The individual on the right also has a standard, script-lettering grade badge — Conductor — beneath his 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, unlike his colleague who is not wearing one. Based on the main photo above, it would seem that around half of the staff wore grade badges and the other half did not!


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways Tram No 6
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. Author's Collection.


Weston super Mare tram No 1
The crew of Tramcar No 1 pose for the cameraman on what looks to have been a sunny day in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the North Somerset Council and South West Heritage Trust, 2018.


Weston super Mare tram No 1
A blow-up of the above photo showing the rather smartly turned-out motorman. Once again, his collar initials are 'W S M T' rather than 'W E T'.


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways Tram No 2
A motorman, in 'lancer-style' jacket, at the controls of Tramcar No 2 at the Sanatorium — photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways Tram No 14 conductor and driver
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 1930s. The motorman is wearing a double-breasted naval-style jacket with lapels, whilst the conductor wears a white or light-coloured dust coat, suggesting that he may have been a seasonal employee. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Weston super Mare Tramway inspectors
A blow-up of the 1909 staff depot photograph above showing three inspectors. Whilst all of them have Inspector on their cap hat bands, only the individual in the centre is wearing a typical tramway inspector uniform. The men on either side are more than likely other grades acting as inspectors.



Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways Tram No 7
An inspector and a group of tramcar staff pose for the cameramen with a very nicely turned out Tramcar No 7 — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing the inspector; he is wearing a standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, as well as a metal script-lettering Inspector badge.


Weston-super-Mare and District Tramways inspector cap badge
Script-lettering Inspector cap badge — brass.