The history of First Generation DMUs

The Railcar website provides information on the British Railways first generation DMUs (a.k.a. diesel multiple units / railcars) introduced in the 1950s.

The six key sections of the website are:

  • Types - looks at each type of DMU in detail
  • Topics - features articles on differernt aspects of the vehicles and personal recollections
  • Technology - describes the technical details of how they work
  • Data - various lists of numerical details
  • Images - galleries featuring DMUs
  • Books - details the books and other printed materials made available over the years that have relevance

Details of railcars in preservation can be found on The Railcar Association website.

Vehicle Data


DMU Images Wanted!

Do you have images of First Generation DMUs (not preserved vehicles)? A handful of volunteers are needed to test out a prototype section of the website allowing users to upload their own images directly onto the site. If you are able to help please get in touch.


This website contains details about the First Generation DMUs. This includes the 4-wheel diesel railbuses, ACV / BUT railcars, the Battery Multiple Unit (BMU) and Blue Pullmans. It covers the period from their introduction to British Railways in the 1950s till their withdrawal and disposal from main-line use, but NOT preservation.

Because of the vast amount of data that this covers and the amount of information I have still to process I cannot include the DEMUs introduced on the Southern Region in the same era, nor Second Generation or later types.


October 15th, 2016

The minutes of the 63rd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (March 1959) have been added.

October 1st, 2016

The allocations for all Derby Lightweights, and the Rolls-Royce powered Cravens vehicles (51681 - 51780) have now been added to the individual vehicle pages.

September 25th, 2016

A new Class 119 page looking at the liveries that they carried.

September 13th, 2016

Further allocations for Derby Lightweights power cars have been added to the individual vehicle pages, covering all the vehicles to 79188. Also some example formations have been added to the Derby Lightweight and Met-Camm Lightweights vehicle pages numbered up to 79188.

September 5th, 2016

Two new Class 119 pages - GRCW Works Photographs and BR Works Photographs.

September 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 62nd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (February 1959) have been added.

August 24th, 2016

On the image page you can now do a caption search.

August 21st, 2016

Scottish Region set formations for February 1981 have been added.

July 23th, 2016

The allocations for the ER & NER Derby Lightweights have been added to the individual vehicle pages, also the original batch of West Cumberland Lightweights (79008-20, 79600-12).

July 16th, 2016

The allocations for the Met-Camm Lightweights have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79047 - 79082, 79263 - 79291, or 79626 - 79632) in the vehicle data box above.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Class 126 vehicles SC79168 SC79470 SC79088 area the rear three cars in this six-car formation seen departing from Glasgow Central station on 05/08/1977. They is one of the early batch dating from 1956. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

Class 101 set 50 seen at Gilberdyke Junction in the 1980s. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

DMBS E53229 is at the rear of this two-car unit passing northbound at Felling, Gateshead, en route to Newcastle in 1987. The electrification catenary visible are on the Tyneside Metro system, which runs adjacent through Gateshead. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

A 7-car formation seen at Sleaford in 1984. Apparently stabled in sidings, DMS(L) E53659 is seen at the front of a mixture of vehicles, including a Class 101 TS(L), Class 120 DMBC(L) and two Class 114s at the rear. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

E53209 leads a four-car Class 101 formation heading northbound at Birtley, Co. Durham, 13/08/1983. Graeme Phillips Collection.


On This Day:

101 DMU

A 3-car Metro-Cammell set is about to leave the south end of the Forth Railway Bridge into Dalmeny station, heading towards Edinburgh Waverley. 26th October 1962. ScR Official Picture. A.A. McLean Collection.

117 DMU

The Sharpness Shunter railtour at Sharpness, 26/10/85. Chris Lings.

Random Images:

119 DMU

B583, led by 51097, during a stop at Moreton-in-Marsh in November 1983. Mike Cooper.

105 DMU

ADB977048 (56142) awaiting disposal at Peak Forest, 16-3-90. Kevin Dowd.

110 DMU

A Class 110 sits in the company of two early (4-lamp) Met-Camms at Scarborough. Undated. Ian Francis.

© 1998 - 2016