Middleton Electric Tramways

The Middleton 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. The photos below clearly show that Middleton 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.

The first style of uniform was double-breasted, with two rows of five buttons and lapels; the latter carried individual embroidered initials — ’M E T’ — on both the left-hand side and the right-hand side. Later photographs indicate that this style of tunic was eventually superseded by a single-breasted design with five buttons and upright collars, the latter carrying individual metal letters — ‘M E T’ — on the right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side, both presumably brass. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and a glossy peak, and carried a standard brass BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below) above an employee number.

Although photographic evidence is elusive, inspectors most probably wore single-breasted jackets edged in a finer material than the main body, with hidden buttons — or an hook and eye affair — a slit breast pocket and upright collars; the latter would have carried the designation Inspector in embroidered script-lettering. It is currently unclear what style of cap was worn, however, it would more than likely have carried the bearer's grade - Inspector - in embroidered script-lettering on a hat band, with the standard BETCo cap badge worn above.

It is currently unclear whether Middleton, like the vast majority of British tramways, employed the services of women during the Great War to replaced male staff lost to the armed services.

For a history of the tramway, see: 'Middleton Tramways' By A K Kirby'; Manchester Transport Museum Society (1976).


Motormen and conductors
Middleton Electric Tramways tramcar No 46
Conductor, motorman and workshop staff posing with Tramcar No 46 of Oldham, Ashton and Hyde Electric Tramways at the Middleton depot — photo dated 7th March 1903 (C K Healey). Tramcar No 46 was on hire from the OA&HET, another local BETCo-owned system. Author's collection

Middleton Electric Tramways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is wearing a BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge with employee number beneath it. His right-hand lapel carries embroidered initials, 'M E T'.

Middleton Electric Tramways conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor.

Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge — brass