Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways

The Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways Company was a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which, over the course of its history, either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway systems across the British Isles. The photos below show Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways staff wearing the familiar and largely regulation BET 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.

Early uniforms took the form of double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons (bearing the standard BET 'Magnet and Wheel' device - see link) and lapels; the upper lapels (collars) carried embroidered system initials - 'A & C T' - on both sides. Caps were in the upright military style with a glossy peak, and carried a standard brass BET 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge, which was worn above an employee number (in individual brass numerals).

At some point, possibly in the late Edwardian era, a change was made to double-breasted, cross-over style tunics with two rows of buttons - narrowing from top to bottom - and upright collars; the latter carried the same insiginia as previously, but in brass rather than embroidered.

Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars; no insignia whatsoever appears to have adorned these garments.

Inspectors wore standard BET uniforms, which comprised single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and upright collars; the jackets were edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, with the collars bearing 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Headgear comprised the same upright military-style caps issued to tramcar crews, but with 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering on a hat band - initially with the standard BET cap badge (worn above), but later worn without.

Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways employed ladies during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services, initially as conductresses, but later on as motorwomen too. Photographs depicting these ladies are yet to come to light, so it is currently unclear what unifomrs they wore.

For a history of the system, see: 'Lanarkshire's Trams' by A W Brotchie (Ed); N B Traction (1993).


Motormen and conductors
Airdrie and Coatbridge tram staff
Staff photograph taken at the depot at Main Street - photo undated, but judging by the condition of the tramcars, probably taken shortly after opening in 1904.

Airdrie and Coatbridge tramways motorman conductor
Blow-up of the above photo showing two of the tramcar staff. The caps bear the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, along with an employee number, whilst the collars bear 'A & C T' in embroidered letters.

British Electric Traction cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge of the type worn by Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways staff - brass.

Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramways Tram No 8 and crew
Conductor (in gaiters) and motorman (in overcoat) with Tramcar No 8 at the Langloan terminus in Coatbridge - photo undated, but probably taken just prior to the Great War.

Airdrie and Coatbridge staff photo Great War
Another staff photograph taken at the depot, but from around the time of the Great War.

Airdrie and Coatbridge tramwaymen circa Great War
Blow-up of the above photo showing four of the tramcar staff, probably two motormen (Employees 4 and 22) and two conductors (Employees 47 and 45). All are wearing double-breasted, cross-over style tunics with upright collars, which bear individual 'A & C T' letters on the right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side.

Senior staff
Airdrie and Coatbridge inspector Edwardian
Blow-up of the Edwardian staff photo above, showing a rather stern looking inspector. Both cap and collars bear his grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering, with the cap additionally carrying the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.

Airdrie and Coatbridge inspector Great War
Blow-up of the Great War staff photo above showing an inspector. The only difference in the uniform from the earlier photo would appear to be the cap, which no longer carries a BET 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge.