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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.


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.

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

Set 107426 (presumably with 52018 closest) is about to enter Curriehill station with the 13:26 Glasgow Central - Edinburgh service on October 3, 1987. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

107433 enters Curriehill on October 3, 1987, with the 14:18 Edinburgh - Glasgow Central service. The closest vehicle is presumably 52012. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

107436 (51997 + 59787 + 52024) passes Portobello on March 28, 1987, with the 10:22 Cardenden - North Berwick service. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

Set 107437 (52021 + 59782 + 51998) is seen stabled at Thornton on February 15, 1987, with a three-car Class 101 behind. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

107433 (52012 + 59790 + 51993) sits in Haymarket depot on February 8, 1987. Hamish Stevenson.


On This Day:

120 DMU

With two brake vehicles in the formation, set 522 (53744 + 59558 + 53706) leaves Haymarket with the 16:24 Edinburgh - Glasgow Central service on August 23, 1986. Hamish Stevenson.

101 DMU

Metro-Cammell class 101 unit 51217-51515 forming an afternoon Middlesbrough - Whitby 'Esk Valley' service departs from Battersby Junction on 23rd August 1988. Unit 53240-51467 stands in the station forming a Whitby - Middlesbrough service. Gordon Edgar.

101 DMU

A Whitby to Middlesbrough Esk Valley service, the 12:45 departure from Glaisdale formed of class 101 Metro-Cammell 2-car units, waits for a Whitby-bound service to arrive before proceeding with the single line token towards Battersby Junction on 23 August 1988. Gordon Edgar.

101 DMU

Metro-Cammell class 101 units 51217-51515 (on the right) forming a Whitby service and 53240-51467 (left) forming a Middlesbrough service at Battersby Junction on 23rd August 1988. Gordon Edgar.

110 DMU

Unidentified class 110 unit leads a 2-car class 101 (or 111) unit as they approach Clapham station (Nth. Yorks.) on a Morecambe to Leeds service, Thursday 23rd August 1984 Iain Reid.

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