Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways

Summary
The Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways 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. The photos below clearly show Y(WD)ETCo staff wearing 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 tunics initially issued to Y(WD)ETCo staff were double-breasted, with two rows of four buttons (presumably of the standard BETCo pattern - see link) and lapels. The latter probably carried individual letters on both sides (’Y W D T’ by analogy with other BETCo systems), almost certainly embroidered, with the overall effect being vaguely naval in appearance. Caps were military in style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top), and carried a standard brass BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ badge (see below), underneath which an employee number was worn, in individual brass numerals.

The naval-style jackets were quickly superseded by single-breasted jackets with five buttons and upright collars; the latter carried individual letters on the right-hand side (probably ’Y W D T’, though these cannot be made out with certainty on the photos below) and an employee number on the left, all presumably brass. At the same time, or possibly a short time afterwards, a decision was taken to dispense with the employee numbers on the caps, and in later years (possibly around the time of the Great War), the collar insignia too, leaving no means of employee identification; this situation was in stark contrast to the general BETCo policy.

Long double-breasted overcoats were also frequently worn, again seemingly devoid of badges.

Inspectors wore a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or more likley a hook and eye affair) and upright collars bearing ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering. The standard ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge was worn, but seemingly without the usual script-lettering ‘Inspector’ badge underneath.

Female staff were employed in significant numbers (as conductresses) during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. The ladies were issued with long, tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt (with button fastening) and high fold-over collars. These jackets do not appear to have carried badges of any description. Headgear was a dark-coloured, wide-brimmed straw bonnet, to which a standard BETCo badge was affixed (on a hat band).

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

Images

Motormen and conductors
Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman aboard Tramcar No 35 on a service to Heckmondwhite - photo undated, but probably taken in the first year of operation. Both men are wearing double-breasted jackets with lapels, whilst their caps seem to bear employee numbers. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 8 - photo undated, but probably taken in the first few years of operation as the dual numbering (each side of the headlamp) did not persist for long. It is clear that the motorman's collars bear badges, though the precise form cannot be made out on this photograph. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Y(WD)ET_No64_AWBCROP
Conductor and motorman with a fairly new-looking No 64 at the Hightown Heights terminus - photo undated, but probably taken in 1905. The conductor appears to be Employee No 24; his right-hand collar bears system initials, almost certainly 'Y W D T', though the 'Y' cannot be made out on this photograph. Both men are wearing the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge, but without the employee numbers that were previously carried below the main cap badge.



Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass


Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways Tram No 18 and crew
Conductor and driver with Tramcar No 18 at the Thornhill terminus - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War in view of the headlamp cowling. Author's collection.


orkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. He is wearing neither collar insignia nor an employee number (on his cap), all of which had clearly been dispensed with by this time.


Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 5 at the Ravensthorpe terminus - photo undated, but probably taken shortly after the Great War. The conductor appears to be the same individual as in the previous shot. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 38 - photo undated, but probably taken shortly after the Great War given the motorman's medals and the headlamp cowling. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways Parade
A parade of Y(WD)ET staff fronted by circa ten inspectors - date and occasion unknown, but probably taken in the 1920s. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Tramways Inspectors
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the inspectors' uniforms. The individual at the front seems to have a double row of embroidered script on his collar, suggesting that he may be a more senior grade such as a 'Traffic Inspector' or 'Chief Inspector.'