Middleton Electric Tramways
The Middleton Electric Traction Co Ltd was a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. The photo below clearly shows Middleton 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.
The first tunic 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 Later photographs indicate that this style of tunic was eventually superseded by a single-breasted design with five buttons and upright collars, the latter carrying individual metal letters, ‘M E T’ on the right-hand side and an employee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 glossy peak, and carried a standard brass BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ badge (see below) above an employee number. Inspectors most probably wore the same badge, but above an embroidered ‘Inspector’ badge’; photographic evidence for the latter is however currently lacking.
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 BET-owned system. Author's collection
Blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is clearly wearing a BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge with employee number beneath it. His right-hand lapel carries embroidered initials, 'M E T'.
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor.
Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass