Burton and Ashby Light Railways

Summary
Motormen and conductors were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons (initially standard Midland Railway 'wyvern' buttons; see link), two breast pockets (with button closures), epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars. The latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side (in individual metal numerals) and system initials - 'B & A L R' - in individual metal letters (on the right-hand side); these badges were more than likely nickel to match the standard-issue Midland Railway buttons. Unusually, this style of the uniform remained unchanged throughout the entire 21+ years of the tramway's existence, spanning both the Midland Railway era (1906 to 1922), as well as its successor company, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (1923 through to closure in 1927).

Caps were military in style with a glossy peak and a tensioned crown (top); they carried a one-piece 'B&ALR' system initials cap badge, above which a standard Midland Railway 'wyvern' badge was worn (see below), both of which were almost certainly nickel.

Following the 1923 railway amalgamation, which created the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, the sole change made to the uniforms appears to have been to replace both cap badges and the 'B & A L R' collar badge with plain, LMS 'block initials' badges, almost certainly nickel. Otherwise, the uniforms appear to have remained the same, though the Midland 'wyvern' buttons were without doubt replaced by standard LMS 'coat of arms' buttons (see link).

Motormen also frequently wore long, double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars; in Midland Railway days, the latter appear to have carried an employee number on the left, and initials - probably 'B&ALR' - on the right, in similar fashion to the jackets worn underneath. Following the 1923 amalgamation, the greatcoats appear to have been worn without insignia of any kind.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and upright collars, the pockets and jacket being edged in a finer material than the main body; the collars carried the bearer's grade on both sides - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering. Caps were identical to tramcar staff, and appear to have again borne 'Inspector' in embroidered script-lettering, possibly on a dark-coloured hat band, though this cannot be made out with any degree of certainty. The only change made during the LMS era was to the cap badges, which were changed to standard LMS rope-effect, script-lettering badges (see photo below), the lower one with the bearer's grade - 'Inspector' - and the upper one a system initials badge, 'LMS'. These were more than likely nickel.

During the Great War, and in common with many tramway systems across the United Kingdom, the B&ALR employed female staff - as conductresses - to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with long, single-breasted jackets with four buttons, four pockets (with button closures), epaulettes and lapels, none of which appear to have carried any insignia; long matching skirts were also issued. Headgear consisted of a large baggy cap with a glossy peak, which carried the same badges as those used on the caps of their male colleagues. A photo has also survived (see below) of a conductress in a long double-breasted overcoat with wide, piped lapels, and a bonnet with a wide brim. The photo is thought to depict a B&ALR conductress, though the complete absence of cap badges and the different style of hat, would suggest that this attribution may be incorrect.

For a history of Burton and Ashby Light Railways, see: 'Sixpenny Switchback' by P M White and J W Storer; J M Pearson & Son (1983).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Burton and Ashby Light Railways
Left-hand half of a large staff photo taken at Swadlincote Depot on the opening day of the system, 13th June 1906. In all probability, the entire staff are depicted, many of whom can be identified (see 'Sixpenny Switchback'; referenced above). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways
Right-hand half of the aforementioned photo. The seated figure at the extreme left is Mr Baldwin, the Traffic Superintendant. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways Tram conductor  Harold James
B&ALR conductor Harold James pictured with his dog (presumably) at his home - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Mr James later moved to the US, working on a Detroit-area inter-urban tramway, the 'Sandwich, Windsor and Amherstburg Railway Company'. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways tram conductor Harold James
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the uniform and cap insignia. His left-hand collar carries an employee number - possibly '16' - whilst the right-hand side bears individual system initials, 'B & A L R'. The cap has a one-piece 'B&ALR' badge, above which is a standard Midland Railway 'wyvern' badge.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways Midland Railway wyvern cap badge
Midland Railway 'wyvern' cap badge - nickel. Author's collection.



Burton and Ashby Light Railways Employee No 28
Burton and Ashby employee No 28 - photo undated, but definitely taken before 1923. The collar insignia - employee number and 'B&ALR' initials - are clearly seen, whilst magnification also confirms that standard Midland railway 'wyvern' pattern buttons (see link) were worn. WIth thanks to John Burford.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways
The crew of Tramcar No 14 captured near Gresley Common - photo undated, but given the pristine condition of the tram, probably Edwardian. The conductor, Leonard James, is actually at the controls, whilst the driver, Charles Wells, stands in front. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways tram conductor Fred Parnham
A lively shot of B&ALR conductor Fred Parnham - possibly Employee No 6 - on the platform of an unidentified tramcar - photo undated, but certainly taken between 1923 and 1927 (Mr Parnham was still with the tramway at closure). His right-hand collar and cap bear standard 'LMS' block-lettering badges, whilst the rest of the uniform is unchanged from Midland Railway days. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways, LMS, badges
LMS block initials cap and collar badges - nickel.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways
Tramcar No 1 stands outside the Joiners Arms in Woodville High Street - photo undated, but either taken in June 1924 or 1926, as these are the only two dates when Leicestershire played Lancashire at the Bath Grounds, Ashby-de-la-Zouch (see advertisement on the bottom of the tramcar dash). The tramcar is in LMS livery, and both men are wearing 'LMS' block-lettering cap badges. The conductor is Reg Adey and the motorman is Richard Shipton; the latter worked on the tramway for its entire existence (1906-1927). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Burton and Ashby Light Railways tramway inspector 1906
A blow-up of the 1906 staff photo above. Whilst the image is of poor quality, it is good enough to discern the style of uniform issued to inspectors, which seems to have remained unchanged throughout the system's entire life.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways tramway inspector John Armstong
A rare studio portrait of an inspector, John Armstong - undated, but certainly taken between 1923, when the LMS came into being, and 1927, when the tramway closed. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways tramway inspector John Armstong
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the collar insignia -'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways tramway inspector John Armstong
Another blow-up of the above photo showing details of the cap badges, both of which appear to be of the LMS's rope-effect script-lettering pattern, probably nickel.


Burton and Ashby Light Raiwlays tram inspector cap badge
Rope-effect, script-lettering cap badge of the type worn by B&ALR inspectors from the railway grouping of 1923, when the 'LMS' was created, onwards - nickel. Author's collection.


Female staff
Burton and Ashby Light Railways Great War tram conductress May Sutherns
Conductress May Sutherns from Woodville - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. With thanks to John Burford.



A blow-up of the above photo showing the one-piece 'B&ALR' cap badge and the Midland Railway 'wyvern' badge above it. The jacket lapels, collars and epaulettes are all unadorned, i.e. left plain.


Burton and Ashby Light Railways Tram conductress Violet Parker
Conductress Violet Parker, purportedly a B&ALR Great War tram conductress, though this is far from certain - photo believed to have been taken around 1918. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.