Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramway

Summary
The Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways Company was a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BETCo), a concern which over the course of its history either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. 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.

During the first few years of operation — from the opening in 1898 — motormen wore double-breasted jackets with two rows of three buttons and lapels, whilst conductors were issued with single-breasted jackets with three buttons and lapels; both types of jacket appear to have been completely devoid of insignia. Caps were initially in a kepi style with a glossy peak; these bore a cap badge, probably comprising embroidered 'K & S E T Co' initials. It is possible that a standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge (see below) was worn above the initials badge, though surviving photographs are unclear in this regard.

At some point in the early 1900s, insignia were added to the jacket collars, very probably the system initials: 'K & S E T'; it is currently unclear whether these were embroidered or metal. At around the same time, a new metal cap badge was introduced, very possibly of one-piece construction, comprising the system initials, 'K & S E T', though still worn on kepi-style caps.

These early jackets were however soon superseded by a heavier-duty, single-breasted design made from blue serge with yellow piping; these had five buttons (probably brass — see link), epaulettes and upright collars. It is unclear whether the latter carried any badges, though by analogy with other BETCo-owned systems, they probably bore an employee number on the left-hand side and individual system initials on the right-hand side (almost certainly in brass). The kepi-style caps were replaced by military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops); these bore the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge (see below). Unlike most other BETCo subsidiaries however, staff of the K&SETCo do not appear to have worn employee numbers on their caps.

Motormen and conductors were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter appear to have borne individual, brass, 'K & S E T' initials on both sides.

Photographs also indicate that motormen and conductors operating within Kidderminster Borough were required to wear a round, alloy licence bearing a number in the centre and KIDDERMINSTER BOROUGH TRAMWAYS' around the circumference. These licences appear to have only been in use during the early 1900s, after which they were dispensed with.

In October 1915, the BETCo's interest in the K&SETCo was transferred to the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co Ltd, the system being administered by the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee, along with the BETCo's other Black Country tramways. The K&SETCo was subsequently issued with uniforms by the B&MTJC, with both motormen and conductors wearing double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter carried individual metal initials — 'B M T' — on the right-hand side and an employee number on the left-hand side, almost certainly in brass. Somewhat curiously, staff continued to wear the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, instead of the larger B&MTJC cap badge (see link).

In the 1920s, motormen, and maybe conductors too, were issued with single-breasted, lightweight summer coats, possibly beige or grey in colour.

Inspectors wore a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons and upright collars, the latter almost certainly bearing Inspector in embroidered script lettering. The standard ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge was probably worn, but with a script-lettering Inspector badge in place of the usual employee number.

It is currently unclear whether female staff were employed by the tramway during the Great War (as they were on many other tramway systems).

For information on the K&SET, see: 'The Illustrated History of Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways Co, 1898-1929' by Melvyn Thompson and David Voice (David Voice Associates, 1998) or 'Black Country Tramways Volume II' by J S Webb (J S Webb, 1976).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 11 and crew
A conductor and a motorman pose for the cameraman with a pristine-condition Tramcar No 3 — photo undated, but probably taken in 1899. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 11 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo, which reveals the conductor and motorman to both be wearing kepi-style caps; they appear to bear some kind of embroidered badge, possibly 'K & S E T Co' initials. The conductor is wearing a single-breasted jacket, whereas the motorman's is double-breasted.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 6 and crew
A conductor and motorman pose alongside Tramcar No 6 between Oldington Farm and Upper Mitton — photo undated, but probably taken before July 1899 as the car still has a trailer coupling and all trailers had been motorised by this time. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 6 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the crew's uniforms. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps with what again appear to be embroidered initials cap badges.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 3 and crew
Tramcar No 3 again, this time outside the Green Man & Still Hotel in Kidderminster. The tramcar is decorated for the coronation of King Edward VII, so the photo was presumably taken in August 1902. Author's Collection.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 3 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, the motorman once again in a double-breasted jacket, and the conductor in a single-breasted jacket. Both men are wearing round licences, which were presumably issued around the turn of the century. Their kepi-style caps clearly bear a reflective cap badge, almost certainly metal, and more than likely comprising the system initials i.e., 'K & S E T'.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways licence
Kidderminster municipal tramways licence — alloy. This appears to have been issued from the turn of the century for only a few short years. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 8 and crew
A motorman, conductor and relief conductor pose aboard Tramcar No 8 near Upper Mitton in the early 1900s. The motorman appears to be wearing an initials cap badge on his kepi-style cap, whilst his conductor sports the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge on a newer military-style cap. The relief conductor is wearing informal attire, though like his colleagues, his does have the standard municipal licence. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 11 and crew
Motorman Francis Thompson and Relief Conductor William Harris pose with a jam-packed Tramcar No 11 at Burlish Loop, Stourport, in 1905. Author's Collection.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 11 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo. The relief conductor — a temporary role to deal with heavily loaded cars — is in informal attire, though he does have a municipal licence to prove his authority. The conductor proper (Alan Arley) is actually at the back of the tram, half in shot on the full photo.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways motorman
Another blow-up of the above photo showing details of the Motorman Thompson's uniform, including the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge along with 'K&SET' initials on his greatcoat collars.


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


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways No 15 and crew
A rather poor quality Great War photo of Tramcar No 15 and crew at the terminus at Stourport. Although neither man appears to be wearing a BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge, this is probably because they are in shadow. This and the next photo however, do suggest that another badge of unknown pattern was worn beneath the main BETCo cap badge during and shortly after the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Kidderminster and Stourport Tram No 2 and crew at Somerleyton Terminus, Kidderminster
The crew of Tramcar No 2 pose for the camera at the Somerleyton Terminus, Kidderminster, around 1920. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Kidderminster and Stourport Tram No 2 and crew at Somerleyton Terminus, Kidderminster
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew. Whilst the conductor appears to be wearing a BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' cap badge, the motorman has a badge of unknown pattern, which is very probably military; the wearing of regimental badges (presumably ex-unit) was quite commonplace during and after the Great War. Both men appear to be wearing some type of block initials cap badge beneath their main BETCo cap badges. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways crew
A very poor quality photo, but one which does show that crewmen wore 'BMT' initials on their right-hand jacket lapels, but still with the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge — photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramways crew
Tramcar No 2 once again with conductor and motorman — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1920s. The motorman is wearing a lightweight summer coat of a type issued by many tramways during the 1920s and 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.