Jarrow and District Electric Tramway

The Jarrow 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. J&DETCo staff were issued with 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.

Conductors and motormen were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom, and of the standard BETCo pattern — see link), and upright collars. The collars carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side — in individual brass numerals — and system initials on the right-hand side, in individual brass letters. Although the latter cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs, by analogy with other BETCo systems, they were almost certainly either 'J D E T' or 'J D T'. Caps were military in style with tensioned crown (top), and carried the standard brass BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below), with an employee number worn below.

Tramcar staff were also issued with long, double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; other than the buttons, these garments appear to have been devoid of insignia.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets edged in material of a finer quality than the main jacket, with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), two waist pockets, two breast pockets and upright collars; the latter almost certainly carrying the designation Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were similar to those worn by tramcar staff, but probably bore an embroidered script-lettering Inspector badge on a hat band, which, by analogy with nearby Gateshead (also a BETCo company), was worn along with the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.

In common with most UK tramway operators, the J&DET employed female staff (as conductresses) during the Great War, to replace men lost to the armed services. Unfortunately, only a single photograph of one of these ladies appears to have survived (see below), and this only reveals the sketchiest of uniform details. The lady in question is wearing a long, double-breasted coat with lapels, seemingly devoid of insignia, and a light coloured scarf. Headgear consisted of a baggy cap with a stiff glossy peak, which almost certainly bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge. The cap, coat and scarf are very reminiscent of the J&DET's near neighbour and sister company — Gateshead and District Tramways Company — so in all likelihood, the J&DET also issued its ladies with single-breasted, tailored jackets with five buttons, hip pockets, lapels, and a belt with two buttons, all without badges of any kind (see link).

For a history of Jarrow's tramway system see: 'The Tramways of Jarrow and South Shields' by George S Hearse; published by the author (1971).


Motormen and conductors
Jarrow and District Electric Tramways Tram No 35
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 35 outside the Royal Oak Hotel in Jarrow circa 1910. Tramcar No 35 was part of the Gateshead & District Tramways Company fleet (another local BETCo subsidiary) and was initially borrowed by the J&DET and then purchased in 1911, becoming J&DET No 10. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.

Jarrow and District Electric Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the rather nonchalant-looking conductor. He is wearing the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge above an employee number. His left-hand collar also carries an employee number, with the right-hand side bearing system initials, of which only the 'T' can be seen.

Jarrow and District Electric Tramways cap badge
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge — brass. Author's Collection.

Jarrow and District Electric Tramways conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the motorman. He appears to be wearing large mitts, an absolutely necessity one would imagine, for driving an open platform tram in northeast winters.

JDT-9-0666-M RED
Tramcar No 9 in Swinburn Street circa 1927. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.

Jarrow and District Electric Tramways Tram No 9
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, in double-breasted greatcoat and with mitts.

Conductor (left), in 'lancer-style' tunic, and motorman (right) on the platform of Tramcar No 2 at Tyne Dock circa 1928. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.

Senior staff
Jarrow and District Electric Tramways Tram
Ex-Gravesend and Northfleet Electric Tramways bogie tram at Jarrow Slake on a Wesleyan Chapel outing around 1909. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.

Jarrow and District Electric Tramways Tram inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing the inspector, who appears to be wearing fairly standard BETCo inspector garb.

Female staff
Jarrow and District Electric Tramways Great War conductress
A rather poor photograph, but the only one I'm aware of that depicts a Jarrow and District Tramways Company Great War conductress. The conductress and motorman are pictured with Tramcar No 8 in Western Rd circa 1916. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.