Worcester Electric Tramways

Summary
The Worcester Electric Traction 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 WETCo staff wearing the familiar and largely regulation BETCo 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 jackets initially issued to WETCo staff were double-breasted with two rows of five buttons (of the standard BETCo pattern - see link), the upper two being mounted between the jacket lapels and collars; by analogy with other BETCo systems, the collars almost certainly bore embroidered system initials - 'W E T' - on both sides. Caps were in the military style with a tensioned crown (top) and stiff glossy peak; they bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, below which was an employee number (in individual numerals). The buttons and badges were almost certainly brass. At some point, probably in the mid Edwardian era, a change was made to single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a single breast pocket with button closure (later two breast pockets) and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number (in individual brass numerals) on the bearer's left-hand side, and system initials - 'W E T' - on the right-hand side. Later photographs (post Great War) suggest that employee numbers were no longer carried on the caps, a change which may well have been introduced along with the single-breasted jackets.

Tramcar crews were also issued with long, double-breasted great coats with two rows of five buttons, two/three waist-level pockets (with flaps), epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried insignia of any kind. Odd photos show staff wearing what appears to be a round licence, though these are few and far between, the overwhelming majority of photos showing staff without them. It may well be that these were worn primarily by staff working the bus services, who simply kept them affixed to their uniforms even when working on the trams.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramways, Worcester employed female staff in significant numbers during the Great War (as conductresses), to replace male staff lost to the armed services. The conductresses were issued with long, tailored, single-breasted jackets with five or six buttons, lapels and a waist belt; other than the buttons, the jackets appear to have been totally devoid of insignia. Headgear took the form of a dark-coloured straw bonnet which bore the standard 'BETCo' cap badge; no employee number appears to have been worn. The ladies were also issued with double-breasted great coats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried badges of any kind. The great coats were rather large and baggy, suggesting that they may have been the same pattern as those issued to male staff.

Good quality photographs of inspectors are relatively rare, but those that have survived show that they wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main jacket, with slit breast pockets and upright collars; the latter bore ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in the military style and bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge, above a hat band with the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering. Inspectors were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of four or five buttons (probably of black composite in later years) and lapels, the upper part of which (the collars) bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering.

For a detailed history of Worcester's horse and electric tramways, see: 'The History of Worcester's Tramways' by David Voice; Adam Gordon (2015).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Worcester Electric Tramways Tram No 7 and crew
Tramcar No 7 and crew outside the Brunswick Arms terminus at St Johns - photo undated, but very probably taken in August 1906 when the extension was opened. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Worcester Electric Tramways Tram No 7 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew members, both of whom are wearing double-breasted jackets with lapels and military-style caps. By analogy with other BETCo systems, the collar initials were almost certainly 'W E T', which was apparently excellent source material for local wits. The caps carry the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, worn above an employee number. The motorman appears to be wearing a licence of some description.


Wrexham District Electric Tramways cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass.


Worcester Electric Tramways staff photo
Staff photo taken at the Bull Ring depot - photo undated, but probably taken in the late Edwardian era or shortly before the Great War. Unlike the motormen and conductors, the boys at the front appear to be wearing jackets with epaulettes - they may well be parcels boys as the WETCo ran a parcels service. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Worcester Electric Tramways staff photo
A blow-up of the above photo showing a few of the motormen and conductors. Their left-hand collars bear an employee number, whilst the right-hand collars have system initials, 'W E T'.


Worcester Electric Tramways Tram No 6
The crew of Tramcar No 6 pose for the camera - photo undated, but in view of the canvas weather protection (a makeshift introduction), probably taken shortly before 1920. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Worcester Electric Tramways conductor circa 1920
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, whose collars appear to be plain.


Worcester Electric Tramways motorman
Worcester Electric Tramways motorman in great coat, leans on his vestibuled tramcar, the latter suggesting that the photograph was taken late in the tramway's life, probably in the mid 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Worcester Electric Tramways inspector pre Great War
A blow-up of the staff photo above showing two of the inspectors, who are wearing fairly standard tramway 'inspector' garb: single-breasted jackets with upright collars embroidered with their grade.


Female staff
Worcester Electric Tramways Great War conductress
A excellent studio portrait of a Worcester Electric Tramways Great War conductress. Other than the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' buttons, her tailored jacket appears to be totally devoid of insignia. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Worcester Electric Tramways Great War conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing the straw bonnet with its BET 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge.


Worcester Electric Tramways staff photo 1918
A poor quality but rare photograph of what is presumably the entire WET staff - dated 1918. The ladies - roughly fifty percent of the entire staff - are all wearing rather unflattering great coats, along with straw bonnets, many of which appear to be non-standard issues. The lady seated second from the right (front row) appears to be wearing a licence of some description. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Worcester driver's licence No 88

Worcester municipal driver's licence No 88 - alloy or aluminium. There is no evidence to suggest that these were issued to tram drivers, however, conductors working on both the buses and the trams may have worn them given the Great War conductress shot above.