Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways

Summary
The Merthyr Tydfil Electric Traction and Lighting Co Ltd was a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BETCo), a concern which over the course of its existence, either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway systems across the British Isles. The photos below show Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways staff 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 first uniforms (from 1901 onwards) took the form of double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons (bearing the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' device — see link) and lapels; the upper lapels (collars) carried embroidered system initials — 'M E T' — on both sides. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and glossy peak; they carried a standard brass BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge, which was worn above an employee number (in individual brass numerals).

At some point, probably in the 1920s or 1930s, a change was made to a more modern cut of jacket, still double-breasted, but with two rows of five buttons; the lapels were seemingly now devoid of insignia. By this time, the caps were simply adorned with the 'Magnet & Wheel' badge, lacking the earlier employee numbers.

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

Inspectors were issued with fairly standard 'tramway inspector uniforms, which comprised single-breasted jackets with four slit pockets, hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye affair) and upright collars; the jackets and pockets were edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, with the collars bearing the grade - Inspector - in embroidered script lettering. Headgear comprised the same military-style of cap issued to tramcar crews, but with the grade — Inspector — embroidered on a hat band (in script lettering), along with the standard BETCo brass cap badge (worn above).

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, women were employed during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, lapels, two hip pockets and a waist belt (with button fastening), along with a medium-length matching skirt; the lapels were devoid of insignia. Headgear took the form of a dark-coloured, wide-brimmed bonnet with a hat band, to which the standard BETCo cap badge was affixed.

For more information on Merthyr's tramways, see: 'The Tramways of South Wales' by W H Bett and J C Gillham (edited by J Price); Light Rail Transit Association (1993).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways depot staff 1903
A fine shot taken in 1903 at Trevithick St depot, some two years after opening. The individual standing 5th from the right on the back row is believed to be Walter Davies, who stayed with the company right through to its final day (see below). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways depot staff 1903
A blow-up of the above photo showing five of the staff. The military-style caps bear the standard British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, worn above an employee number. The collars bear the system initials: probably 'MTET' or 'MET'. The chevron on the sleeve of the individual at the bottom right very probably denotes good conduct.


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


Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Tram Depot 1919 RED
Presumably the entire staff assembled at Trevithick St depot in 1919 . Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice


Methyr Tram drivers and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo showing seven of the staff, all looking very young, presumably a consequence of the Great War. Although difficult to make out, the collars bear 'M E T' system initials on the wearer's right-hand side, and an employee number on the left.



Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Tram No 13 and crew
Tramcar No 13 and crew stand outside the Morning Sun at the Cefn Coed terminus — photo undated, but almost certainly taken in the mid-to-late 1930s. Photo by M J O'Connor, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor.


Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways conductor Walter Davies
MTET conductor (believed to be Walter Davies) with Tramcar No 6 — photo undated, but very probably taken in the late 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Conductor Walter Davies and motorman John Buckley with Methyr Tydfil's last tram
The crew of Merthyr's last tram - No 9 — pose for the cameraman with their charge outside the Bush Hotel - photo probably taken on 23rd August 1939. The conductor is once again Walter Davies (see above), whilst the motorman is John Buckley. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Inspector 1903
Close up of an inspector, taken from the 1903 depot shot above.


Female staff
Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Great War Conductress
A fine studio portrait of a very smart looking Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Great War conductress. The subject was presumably called 'Aggie' as the back of the post card reads "For Dear Will, with love from Aggie, May 18th 1916". The card was evidently hand delivered to 15 St Tydfils Avenue, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, S Wales. Photograph by Jesse Williams, Royal Studios, Merthyr. Author's Collection.


Methyr Tydfil Electric Tramways Great War Conductress
A blow-up of the above photo, clearly showing the standard British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.