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


Volunteers 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.


June 8th, 2016

The Class 116 livery page had been enhanced to include a more detailed look at the liveries carried over the years.

June 4th, 2016

The introduction page to formations has been revamped taking a look at the use of set numbers through the years.

June 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 18th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (November 1953) have been added.

May 27th, 2016

Some new pages added to the Derby Lightweight section on Body Design, Underframe Construction, and Body Constuction.

May 6th, 2016

Further formation listings have been added: NSE 11/92, NSE 11/93, Regional Railways 11/92 and Regional Railways 11/93.

May 5th, 2016

Further destination blinds added: London (ER) 1960s; London (WR) 1950s; London (WR) 1970s; ER (Anglia) 1950s; and ER 1960s.

May 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 60th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (December 1958) have been added.

April 16th, 2016

Further formation listings have been added: East Anglia in 12/86; Summer 1986 for East Anglia, LMR, ScR and WR; also ScR for August 1986 and 1988.

April 9th, 2016

Another page on data panels, this time on Class 121 bubble cars.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

51421 / 54275 (set CH253) head away from Lancaster on 30 July 1989. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Set CH253 (51421 + 54275) arrives at Bare Lane on 30 July 1989. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 107 heads out of Glasgow Central in the fading light on the 6th February 1987. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

L420 (51400 + 59510 + 51358) arrives at Southall on 23 July 85. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

53421 / 53529 are seen at Normanton on 19/3/88 while working the 15:43 Leeds - Sheffield. Stuart Mackay Collection.


On This Day:

120 DMU

M59583 is one of several DMU vehicles to be seen at Vic Berry's yard in Leicester on 29/6/86, as well as M29566M. Ian Francis.

116 DMU

T413 (53902 + 59595 + 59632 + 51868) on the blocks at Redditch with the 12:23 to Lichfield Trent Valley, 26/6/90. Gazza Prescott.

116 DMU

T321 (53854 + 59723 + 53907) “Dusty Bin” (a nickname the set received after the catchphrase from a TV show) leaves King’s Norton with the 08:32 Lichfield TV-Longbridge, 29th June 1990. Gazza Prescott.

119 DMU

At Reading on the 29th June '87 was W51079, part of set L588. Malcolm Clements.

117 DMU

51408 at Reading, 29/6/87. Malcolm Clements.

© 1998 - 2016