Bath Electric Tramways Limited

Good quality close-up photographs of Bath Electric Tramways staff are somewhat of a rarity, which is more than a little surprising given that the system served a major tourist town. The information below is therefore based on photographs taken from a distance, as well as details given in 'The Bath Tramways' by Colin C Maggs (The Oakwood Press, 1971).

Tramcar staff were initially issued with double-breasted, navy blue serge jackets with red piping, two rows of four brass buttons (see link) and high fold-over collars. It is unclear whether the jackets carried any kind of insignia, but so far, evidence tends to suggest that they did not. Caps were in a squat 'soft-topped' military style with a glossy peak, and perhaps uniquely amongst British electric tramway systems, appear not to have carried a cap badge of any description.

Motormen and conductors frequently wore long double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons - narrowing from top to bottom - and high fold-over collars; the latter appear to have carried 'BETL' in embroidered script initials. Some kind of round municipal licence also appears to have been worn, details of which are currently unknown.

At some point in the first decade of operation, but definitely prior to 1911, jackets were changed to a fairly standard single-breasted tramway design with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures) and upright collars. Once again, no insignia - other than the buttons - appears to have been carried. A further change appears to have been made in the 1930s to a more modern design of double-breasted jacket with two rows of four buttons, and lapels. Around the same time, a one-piece, script initials nickel badge ('BETL') was introduced; this was used both as a cap badge and on the upper lapels of the overcoats (see below). It is also possible that buttons were changed from brass to nickel at this time, though this is just speculation.

Women were employed during the Great War, initially as conductors and later on as drivers, to replace male staff lost to the armed services. The ladies were issued with a three-quarter length jacket (probably single-breasted) with high fold-over collars, along with a matching skirt, all in navy blue serge. Baggy caps were worn (with a shiny peak), and in keeping with the general policy, unadorned by any form of badge. Female staff wore make-shift uniforms until the official unfiorms were delivered on 1st December 1915.

It is unclear what uniform inspectors wore, though caps were apparently the same as ordinary tramcar staff, but with the addition of an embroidered, script-lettering cap badge - 'Inspector'.


Motormen and conductors
Bath Electric Tramways Tram No 22 and crew 1904
The crew of Tramcar No 22 pose for the camera at Newbridge Hill in 1904. Although of very poor quality, it does show that both motormen and conductors wore double-breasted jackets with lapels and soft-topped, military-style caps. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Bath Electric Tramways Tram No 27
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 27 in the centre of Bath en route to Coombe Down - photo undated, but probably taken within the first decade of operation. The motorman is wearing the initial style of double-breasted uniform, and also has a round licence. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Bath Electric Tramways Tram No 12 and crew
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 12 outside the Globe Inn at the Newton St Loe tram terminus - photo undated, but probably taken between 1910 and the Great War. Although of poor quality, the motorman is clearly wearing a long double-breasted, 'lancer style' overcoat, whilst the conductor has the later style single-breasted jacket. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Bath Electric Tramways Tram No 16 and motorman Jack Snow
Motorman Jack Snow at the controls of Tramcar No 16 crossing the New Bridge on 18th April 1938. Although details of the uniform are difficult to make out, it is clear that metal badges are being worn on both the cap and the overcoat lapels. Photo by W A Camwell.

Bath Electric Tramways cap abdge
BETL initials cap badge - nickel

A sterling silver badge often mistakenly attributed to the BETL; it is actually from Bedford Physical Training College, now part of De Montford University.