Mexborough and Swinton Tramways

Images depicting staff of the Mexborough and Swinton Tramways are relatively uncommon, so what follows is based on a relatively thin photographic record.

Motormen were issued with double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with five pairs of buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter possibly carried an employee number on the right-hand side and individual system initials — probably 'M & S' — on the left-hand side. Conductors on the other hand wore double-breasted jackets with four pairs of closely spaced buttons, and lapels; the latter certainly carried insignia of some kind, again probably system initials and an employee number, though this cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving photographs. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and carried standard, 'off the shelf', script-lettering grade badges, either Motorman or Conductor. It is currently unclear whether the badges and buttons were brass or nickel. Later on in the system's life — possibly just prior to the Great War — the script-lettering grade badges were replaced by a prominent nickel cap badge, which took the form of a scalloped shield, within which were the system initials — ' M &. S. T' — and the bearer's grade, in block capitals; 'CONDUCTOR' has survived, and it is assumed that 'MOTORMAN' or 'DRIVER' existed as well. The curiously placed full stops in the system initials are reproduced exactly as positioned on the surviving badges (see below).

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets edged in a finer material than the main body, with hidden buttons — or more likely an hook and eye affair — a slit breast pocket and upright collars; the latter carried the designation Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were in a military style and also carried the designation Inspector in embroidered script lettering, probably on a hat band. The Chief Inspector wore a virtually identical uniform, though without the collar designations; his cap bore a large oval cap badge that was possibly embroidered with his grade and the system initials.

In common with the vast majority of UK Tramway systems, women were employed during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. A single photograph has survived which indicates that conductresses were issued with long, tailored, double-breasted greatcoats with high, fold-over collars and epaulettes; the latter certainly bore insignia of some kind, probably an employee number and/or system initials. These ladies were also presumably issued with jackets (worn underneath), but photographs showing them appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to say what form they took. Headgear — at least in summer — appears to have been a dark-coloured straw bonnet which carried a hat band bearing the same large shield badge worn by the men (at this time).

For a history of the Mexborough and Swinton, see: 'Rotherham and District Transport', 'Vol 1 to 1914', and 'Vol 2 to 1939' by C C Hall; Rotherwood Press (1996 and 1998, respectively).


Motormen and conductors
Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tram No 13 and crew
A motorman and conductor at Swinton Common with what appears to be a brand new Tramcar No 13 — photo undated, but probably taken around the time of opening, i.e., 1907. The surface contact studs of the Dolter current collection system are clearly seen between the rails on the left-hand track; the M&ST used this form of current collection until 30th July 1908, when it was replaced by overhead wire.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tram No 13 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman and conductor, the former in 'lancer-style' tunic and the latter in a double-breasted jacket with lapels.

Musselburgh and District Tramways cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges — Motorman and Conductor — of the type used by Mexborough and Swinton Tramways prior to the Great War. It is currently unclear whether they were issued in brass or nickel.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tramcar No 12 circa 1908
The crew of Tramcar No 12 pose for the camera on a poorly surfaced country road — photo undated, but judging by the excellent condition of the vehicle, probably taken shortly after conversion to overhead electric traction in 1908. Both men are wearing double-breasted greatcoats with military-style caps bearing script-lettering grade badges.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tram No 19 and crew
A conductress and a motorman with Tramcar No 19 — photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War.

Mexborough and Swinton Motorman
An enlargement of the above photo showing the motorman. The strange oval shapes on the cap are in fact the lenses of his goggles. The badge in the centre, partially obscured by the goggles, is almost certainly the large shield-shaped badge that staff were wearing by the time of the Great War (see below). It is possible that the left-hand collar insignia are 'M & S'.

Mexborough and Swinton tram conductor
A very poor-quality photograph, but one which clearly shows the shield shape of the new cap badge. The conductor is clearly wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic rather than the usual double-breasted design, suggesting that uniform policy may have been somewhat flexible. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways cap badge conductor
Mexborough and Swinton Tramways conductor's cap badge — nickel. This was worn from around the time of the Great War through to closure in 1929. Author's Collection.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tram No 20 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 20 pose for the cameraman with a service to Rotherham — photo undated, but from the large flat caps, probably taken in the early 1920s. The conductor is wearing the usual style of double-breasted jacket with parallel buttons and lapels. Source unknown.

Senior staff
Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Tram No 8
Two inspectors pose for the camera with Tramcar No 8, standing just beyond the Dale Rd depot. The fact that one of the inspectors is at the controls, suggests that the photo was taken to commemorate a significant event, possibly the conversion to overhead current collection in July 1908. Author's Collection.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Inpsector
A blow-up of the above photo showing on of the inspectors, standing rather proprietorially next to the tramcar; he has more than a passing resemblance to a well-known Georgian dictator.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways inspectors
Mexborough and Swinton senior staff with two inspectors and an individual who is probably the Chief Inspector (back row, middle) — photo undated, but more than likely taken around the time of opening, 1907. Author's Collection.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing one of the inspectors. He is wearing a fairly standard 'tramway' inspector's uniform, with his grade embroidered on the upright collars and the cap.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Chief Inspector
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing an individual who is probably the Chief Inspector. He is wearing a large oval cap badge, which, by analogy with senior staff on other systems, would probably have been embroidered cloth.

Female staff
Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Great War conductress
A blow-up of the photograph of Tram No 19 above showing the rather striking looking conductress. She is almost certainly wearing the new shield cap badge.