Chatham and District Light Railway



Owner Chatham and District Light Railways Company Limited (a subsidiary of the British Thomson-Houston Company Limited - BTH)
Opened
17th June 1902 (electric)
Operator Chatham and District Light Railways Company Limited
Took over operation (leasee) 22nd December 1904 (new lines built by Rochester City Council [Rochester Corporation Tramways])
Taken over 1927 (Maidstone and District Motor Services Limited - a British Electric Traction Company Limited subsidiary)
Closed
30th September 1930
Length 14.98 miles (including Rochester Corporation owned lines)
Gauge 3ft 6ins

Button description
Monogram of entwined letters ‘C&DLR’
Materials known Brass
Button Line reference [None]

Comment This button appears in David Froggatt's 'Railway Buttons, Badges and Uniforms' (Malaga Books,1986; Plate 33/1) as a London, Chatham and Dover Railway 'police' issue. However, there are three reasons to think that this identification is incorrect:

1. The standard 'LCDRly buttons are completely different in style and no elements from those buttons appear on this button
2. The button is a one-piece brass construction (railway police buttons are invariably black horn or silver)
3. Close examination of several Chatham staff photos (see link) suggests that the buttons bore a monogram of some description, though the precise nature of this cannot be made out.

The monogram button illustrated here certainly fits the title; however, in the absence of firm photographic or written evidence, the attribution can only be regarded as tentative.

On closing the tramway system and switching to buses, the 'C&DLR' changed its name to the 'Chatham and District Traction Company', a company wholly owned by the 'Maidstone and District Motor Services Limited', and thus 'BETCo'. Note that buttons issued by the 'C&DTC' bore no resemblance whatsoever to its antecedent (the 'C&DLR') but were virtually identical to those of its new parent company, the 'M&DMS' (four letters in two lines within a scalloped rim).

In addition to the Chatham system, BTH also owned, operated or controlled the following systems: Cork Electric Tramways, Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways, Lanarkshire Tramways, and Paisley District Tramways. Interestingly, the buttons of all these companies have very little in common stylistically, suggesting that BTH left this aspect of tramway operation to the tramway companies themselves.