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), epaulettes and stand-up collars; whilst the epaulettes were left plain, the collars certainly carried insignia, probably individual metal system initials — either 'M & S T' or 'M S T' — on both sides. 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, though this cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving photographs. The tensioned- crown peaked caps 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 cap badges were replaced by a prominent nickel cap badge, which took the form of a scallop-topped shield, within which were the system initials — ' M &. S. T' — and the bearer's grade, both 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 badge (see below). At some point, conductors jackets were changed to a single-breasted type with stand-up collars, both sides again carrying metal system initials. Conductors' single-breasted jackets bore epaulettes, which like those on motormen's tunics, appear to have been devoid of insignia.

Tramcar crews were also provided with double-breasted greatcoats with epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; neither the epaulettes nor the collars bore badges.

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 stand-up collars; the latter carried the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. The tensioned-crown peaked caps also bore the grade — 'Inspector' — in embroidered script lettering, probably on a hat band. The chief inspector wore a virtually identical uniform to ordinary inspectors, though without the collar designations; his cap bore a large oval cap badge, possibly embroidered with his grade and the system's 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 shows that conductresses were issued with long, tailored, double-breasted topcoats with high, fold-over collars and epaulettes; the latter certainly bore insignia of some kind, probably system initials. These ladies were presumably also issued with jackets (worn underneath the topcoats), 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 taken the form of dark-coloured straw bonnets; these carried a hat band bearing the same large shield badge worn by male tramcar crews (at this time).

For a history of the Mexborough and Swinton Tramways, 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 a 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
An enlargement of the above photograph showing the motorman and the conductor, the former in a 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 pictured at the passing loop at Warren Vale, close to Warren Vale Colliery. The photograph can be fairly accurately dated to 1907/8 due to the absence of overhead electric wiring, and the presence of a stowed trolley pole, the latter being used when running into the Rotherham terminus. Both men are wearing double-breasted greatcoats with tensioned-crown peaked caps bearing script-lettering grade badges. My thanks to Roger Beaver for the background information.

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 photograph 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).

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 with lapels, suggesting that uniform policy may have been somewhat flexible. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways cap badge conductor
A 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 outside the Old Toll Bar depot at the northern limit of the tramway where the Mexborough boundary meets that of Denaby — photo undated, but from the large flat caps, probably taken in the early-to-mid 1920s. The conductor is wearing the usual style of double-breasted jacket with parallel buttons and lapels. My thanks to Roger Beevor for the background information.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways staff photo 1920s
A staff photograph taken at the tram depot, probably in the last decade of operation in view of the baggy flat cap and the trilby hats, coupled with the general dearth of moustaches.

An enlargement of the above photograph showing four of the motormen (in double-breasted lancer-style tunics) and five of the conductors (in single-breasted jackets). All bar one of the subjects are wearing the shield-shaped cap badge. The collar insignia are difficult to make out, but definitely begin with an 'M' and end in a 'T'.

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
An enlargement of the above photograph showing one 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, i.e., 1907. Author's Collection.

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways inspector
An enlargement of the above photograph showing one of the inspectors. He is wearing a fairly standard tramway inspector's uniform, with his grade embroidered on the stand-up collars and the cap (on a hatband).

Mexborough and Swinton Tramways Chief Inspector
Another blow-up of the above photograph, 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
An enlargement of the photograph of Tram No 19 above showing the rather striking looking conductress. She is almost certainly wearing the new shield cap badge on her dark-coloured straw bonnet.