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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 photos of First Generation DMUs? The more images we have the better we can tell the DMU story and make it more useful to visitors. Images can be loaded directly onto the site - just register as a user and upload! Alternatively if you have images on flickr or another website I can do the uploads for you - just let me know.


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.


Holiday Time

The normal daily batch of image uploads will resume after August 13th. If you have any DMU images feel free to add them here while I'm gone.

July 18th

A more detailed look at the Class 114s in parcel use has been added.

July 16th

The minutes of the 72nd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (March 1960) have been added.

June 29th

The allocations for the GRC&W Class 128s and BRC&W Class 110s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

June 19th

The minutes of the 71st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1960) have been added.

June 14th

Eric Stuart remembers the early years of DMUs as he presents his Railcar Memories.

May 24th

The minutes of the 70th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (December 1959) have been added.

May 20th

The allocations for the remainder of the Cravens Class 105s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

May 18th

A more expanded look at the Class 120 DMUs that operated in Scotland. There are two parts, the original seven sets and the late 1980s.

May 6th

The allocations for the second batch of Cravens Class 105s (50752-817 and 59307-25) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Two Etches Park Class 120 Swindon Cross-Country sets, one in plain blue and one in blue / grey heading for Norwich. Date unknown, the location is possibly Syston South Junction. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

W51342 at the head of L407, presumably with 59494 + 51384, at Southall in June 1983. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Class 104 trailer brake second 59211 in Sheffield Midland station. Date unknown, one of batch of slides where the color is mutating. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Class 104 centre car 59234 at Sheffield Midland station. Date unknown. It's one of batch of slides I acquired where the color is mutating. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Class 104 53447 (and presumably 52055) appears to be empty when seen at Manchester Victoria in September 1984. Stuart Mackay Collection.


On This Day:

108 DMU

BX489 (M51569 + M59207 + M53932) part of the Buxton allocation is a 1960 built Derby Lightweight dmu, with its class 104 TBSL center car, passes through Buxworth cutting with the Summer Sundays only Buxton - New Mills Central-Buxton Peak Rail Ramber service, in this view heading back to Buxton. 21st July 1985. Andrew J Crowther.

115 DMU

A Class 115 / 108 hybrid set seen at Watford South Junction, 21/7/90. Mel Holley.

120 DMU

A Class 120 set, with 50741 nearest the camera, heads into the tunnel at Cromford on 21/7/80. Chris Lings.

bmu DMU

The Battery Multiple Unit (975004 / 975003) stabled at the RTC in Derby. Taken at an open day on 21/7/79. Chris Lings.

101 DMU

50247 & 56375 pass Billingham, 21 July 1982. Jerry Glover.

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