Barnsley and District Tramways

Summary
The Barnsley and District 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. Despite the fact that the company operated successfully for some 28 years before closure in the 1930s, photographs depicting staff are not only surprisingly rare, but appear to stem overwhelmingly from the first decade of operation; care must therefore be exercised in extrapolating from this evidence through the Great War and the 1920s, as uniforms may well have changed in style over the course of these latter two decades. The photographs that have survived do however show staff of the B&DTCoLtd 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 jackets issued to staff during the first decade of operation were single-breasted with five buttons (presumably of the standard BETCo pattern - see link), a single breast pocket (with button closure) and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side (in individual numerals) and systems initials - 'B & D T' - in individual letters on the right-hand side, all almost certainly in brass. Caps were military in style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top), and carried a standard brass BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below), underneath which an employee number was worn (in individual brass numerals).

By analogy with other BETCo tramway systems, inspectors almost certainly wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair) and upright collars, the latter bearing Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown and a hat band bearing the grade - Inspector - again in embroidered script lettering, above which the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge was worn. The Chief Inspector wore a virtually identical uniform, but with the grade Chief Inspector; his cap appears however to have borne a more elaborate hat band. Senior staff were also issued with smart double-breasted overcoats with lapels, the upper part of which (i.e. the collars), bore their grades in embroidered script lettering.

Like the vast majority of UK tramway systems, female staff were employed in significant numbers during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. A studio photo has survived which depicts eight conductresses, all wearing long, tailored, single-breasted coats with five buttons, a waist belt with two-button fastening, epaulettes, cuff embellishments, and high, fold-over collars; the latter carried system initials - 'B & D T' - on the bearer's left-hand side and an employee number on the right-hand side. The collar insignia would appear to have been of a rather unusual striated design, giving a rope effect, a style which was also used on the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee (another BETCo concern), though others in the photo clearly have the more frequently used plain variety. It is currently unclear whether jackets were worn underneath these coats or not. Headgear took the form of a bonnet with an upturned brim, around which was a thick material band, held in place by a wide material loop at the front; the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge was mounted on this loop. As far as I am aware, this highly unusual design of hat was unique to the B&DTCoLtd amongst UK tramway systems.

The tramway company also employed women as inspectors (i.e. inspectresses) during the Great War. These ladies were issued with full-length, single-breasted coats with high, fold-over collars and a waistbelt, all seemingly in a gabardine-like material. The collars bore the grade - Inspector- in embroidered script lettering. Headgear took the form of a bonnet, seemingly identical to those worn by conductresses, but possibly made from the same material as the full-length coat; the bonnet bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge. It is unclear whether inspectresses wore a company-issued jacket under the coat or not.

For more information on the Barnsley and District Tramways, see: 'A History of the Barnsley, Dearne, Mexborough and Rotherham Tramway Conurbation' by C C Hall; Tramway Review Nos 53 to 58 (1968-1969).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Barnsley and District Tramways crew and tram No 14
Conductor (Employee No 13) and motorman (possibly Employee No 4) with what would appear to be a rather new-looking Tramcar No 14, suggesting that the photo was taken in or shortly after, 1912. Both men have an employee number on their left-hand collars, and individual system initials - 'B & D T' - on their right-hand side. The military-style caps bear the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, worn above an employee number.


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


Barnsley and District Tramways staff photo
A rather poor quality photograph, but one which shows four B&DTCo tramcar staff proudly posing for the camera with the Friendly Society Challenge Cup, presumably in 1911. All are wearing single-breasted jackets and caps with standard BETCo insignia. The jacket collars carry an employee number on the left-hand side and individual 'B & D T' initials on the right-hand side, all almost certainly in brass. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Senior staff
Barnsley and District Tramways Great War tram inspector, chief inspector and inspectresses
A superb studio portrait of three B&DT inspectresses, an inspector (back right) and the Chief Inspector (front right) - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War. Author's Collection.


Barnsley and District Tramways Tram inspector Great War
A blow-up of the above photo showing the inspector. His single-breasted jacket with upright collars can just be made out underneath his overcoat; the collars, along with those on his overcoat, bear his grade - Inspector - in embroidered script lettering. His cap also bears his grade in embroidered script lettering, along with the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.


Barnsley and District Tramways Tram Chief Inspector
A further blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the Chief Inspector. His uniform, overcoat and cap insignia all appear to be identical to the inspector's, save for the grade, but with a more elaborate hat band.


Female staff
Barnsley and District Tramways Great War tram conductresses
A group of eight Great War B&DT female staff, probably all conductresses. The bonnets are really quite unusual, and as far as I am aware, were unique to the B&DT amongst UK tramway systems. Author's Collection.


Barnsley and District Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photograph showing Employee No 56. Like most of the others depicted, she is wearing narrow system initials, which were in all probability striated to give a rope effect; this type of badge also found use on a small number of other BETCo systems.


Barnsley and District Tramways Great War tram conductress
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing one the conductresses with the more usual plain system initials.


Barnslet and District Tramways Great War Tram inspectress
A blow-up of the 'inspectors' studio photo above showing a Great War B&DTCoLtd inspectress. She is wearing a full-length, single-breasted coat with high, fold-over collars (bearing her grade) and a waistbelt, all seemingly in a gabardine-like material. The bonnet is very similar to those worn by conductresses, though perhaps in the same material as the coat; it bears the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.