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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.


September 21st

The minutes of the 74th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (June 1960) have been added.

August 28th

The allocations for the Derby Class 114s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

August 18th

The minutes of the 73rd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (April 1960) have been added.

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A Park Royal railbus - date / location unknown. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

Park Royal railbus SC79974 seems to be fairly new when seen in this undated image in Kilmarnock station, but has already received a bash to the cab corner. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

M79973 is seen in Tillicoultry station with a Dollar service in May 1964. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

A new looking SC79974 arrives into Prestwick station with an Ayr - Kilmarnock service. Date unknown. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

M79971 grounded in Millerhill yard where it was used as a hut for several years after withdrawal. Date unknown. Hamish Stevenson.


On This Day:

116 DMU

M50112 leads the 5.52pm Birmingham (Snow Hill) - Lapworth seen between Solihull & Widney Manor on the 23rd September 1964. Michael Mensing.

swindon-79xxx DMU

On the 23rd September 1957 a 6-car Swindon Inter-City set is seen taking the north west curve at Honeybourne with the 12.25pm Birmingham Snow Hill - Cardiff General service, diverted via the MR route to Cheltenham. Michael Mensing.

119 DMU

Left: Class 101 DMBS E53250; Right: Class 119 DMBC 51059, seen at Newcastle on 23/09/1987. Class 143 Pacer problems in the north-east saw an influx of first generation DMUs to Heaton (HT) depot in the weeks leading up to the October 1987 timetable change (05/10/1987), including vehicles of Classes 116, 118 and 119 – none of which had previously operated anywhere near the north-east – as well as some rather tatty Class 101s from diverse regions. These unusual types were eliminated from the area by Spring 1988 when loco-haulage restarted. Graeme Phillips Collection.

105 DMU

E56471 in Hull Paragon station. No details came with the image, but it's probably the HLPG 'City of Hull Tour' on the 23rd September 1978. Stuart Mackay Collection.

117 DMU

The new end of 977992, seen at Birmingham Railway Museum on 23/9/04. When converted from 51375 the cab was removed from here and this end built from scratch. The water tanks can be seen inside. Stuart Mackay.

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