Poole and District Electric Tramways

Summary
The Poole and District Electric Traction Company were a subsidiary of the much larger British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BET), a concern which over the course of its history either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. The photos below show Poole and District Electric Tramways staff wearing the familiar and largely regulation BET uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BET systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern.

Although the P&DET only existed as an independent concern for a mere 4 years before being sold to Bournemouth and Poole Corporations (company and track, respectively), a reasonable number of photos showing tramway staff have in fact survived. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these photos are undated, which makes the task of establishing a precise chronology for the uniforms exceedingly difficult, especially as there appear to have been three distinct styles in this relatively short period! What follows is therefore conjectural, and may need to be changed as and when new photos are discovered.

The first photo below suggests that staff were initially issued with single-breasted tunics with five buttons and upright collars; the latter seem to have carried script lettering insignia, possibly embroidered. Kepi-style caps were worn, which also appeared to have carried some kind of embroidered, script-lettering, once again of unknown pattern. It is perhaps worth noting that the use of embroidered script-lettering insignia stands in marked contrast to the general policy of the BET; a possible explanation for this could be that these uniforms were an early 'one off' order, before BET uniform policy had become clear and universally implemented. The pristine condition of the tramcar in the first photo certainly suggests an early date. Other photos of the earliest years of operation eveal that tramcar staff were issued straw boaters in summer.

At some point, probably within the first year or two of opening, the uniforms were radically changed. Motormen and conductors wore double-breasted, cross-over tunics, with two rows of five buttons (presumably brass; see link) and upright collars; the latter certainly carried individual metal initials - 'P&DET' - on the right-hand side, and seemingly also on the left-hand collar as well. If staff did indeed where system initials on the left-hand collar, this would run counter to the general BET policy, where left-hand collars invariably carried an employee number in individual metal (usually brass) numerals. At the same time, presumably, caps were changed to a military style with a glossy peak, carrying a standard brass BET ‘Magnet & Wheel’ badge (see below) above an employee number.

A staff photo (not shown) taken at the Ashley Road Depot - purportedly shortly before the Bournemouth takeover - suggests that another significant change was made to uniform style. In this photo, staff are wearing double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons and lapels; the latter appear to carried an embroidered designition. Although this cannot be made out on the photo, in all likelihood, the lapels would have carried system initials - 'P&DET - as this was standard BET practice for this style of jacket. Althought most men are wearing military style caps, a handful are still wearing kepis.

It is currently unclear what uniform and badges were worn by inspectors.

Images

Poole and District Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 2 at County Gates - photo undated, but given the pristine condition of the tram, probably taken in the first couple of years of operation (1901/1902). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Poole and District Electric Tramways
Blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. His collars and caps appear to bear some kind of script-lettering insignia, possibly embroidered, and there is no evidence of the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.


Poole and District Electric Tramways
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 10 at County Gates - photo undated, but given the pristine paintwork, probably taken in the first years of operation (1901/1902). Both men are wearing the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' badge and employee number on their caps, and system initials - 'P&DET' - seemingly on both collars. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Poole and District Electric Tramways
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 4 in Ashley Road, Parkstone - photo undated, but given the shabby paintwork, probably taken in the last years of operation (1904/1905). Again, both men are wearing the standard BET 'Magnet & Wheel' badge and employee number on their caps, and system initials - 'P&DET' - on their collars. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.



Standard British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge - brass