The Manchester Regiment was brought into being by Army General Order 41 (1st May 1881) and GO 70 (1st July 1881). The Regiment was formed as the result of amalgamation of the 63rd of Foot and the 96th of Foot.
When the 1881 reforms came into effect the usual head dress was the spiked infantry helmet bearing the usual helmet plate within which was worn a regimental helmet plate centre (HPC). The helmet plate had a central circle into which was placed the HPC; the Manchesters wore an HPC with "Manchester" on the circle and the Arms of the City of Manchester within the circle.
From 1881 things changed and the regimental cap badge was introduced and the Manchesters adopted the Arms of the City in white metal above a brass title scroll bearing the name "Manchester". This first badge was and still is known as the "Tram conductors badge" for fairly obvious reasons.
During the period 1881-1895, Warrant Officers of the Regiment wore a distinctive badge embodying a white metal Sphinx granted to the old 96th for service in Egypt in 1801 above a brass title scroll.
There were six Volunteer Battalions of the Manchesters as featured recently in Robert Bonner's excellent article in the Manchester Genealogist (Vol36, No2). Five of these Volunteer Battalions wore a variation of the tram conductors badge that bore a small oval on which was the VB's number; the sixth wore a fleur-de-lys design. The VBs badges also bore a scroll to recognise their service in the Boer War.
The tram conductors badge badge was worn by all battalions of the Manchester Regiment through WW 1 with the exceptions of the 7th Territorial Battalion; I think it was also worn by the Oldham Comrades, who were the 24th (Service Bttn) of the Manchester Regiment. The 7th (TF) and the 24th wore a brass floriated fleur-de-lys; this was a patterned fleur-de-lys rather than a plain one.
In 1923 the Regiment adopted a plain brass fleur-de-lys in place of the Arms badge. The fleur-de-lys commemorates service in the French island of Martinique by the old 63rd over a hundred years before. After WW 2, the brass version of the badge gave way to a white metal version.
As a result of the army changes of 1958 the Manchester Regiment merged with the King's Regiment (Liverpool) to become The King's Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool) and adopted the badge of the Lancastrian Brigade.
Information provided by Pete Findlow