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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.


April 27th

The minutes of the 69th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (November 1959) have been added.

March 27th

The allocations for the first batch of Cravens Class 105s (50359-94 and 56114-49) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

March 23rd

The minutes of the 68th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (October 1959) have been added.

March 13th

The allocations for the Swindon Class 120s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

February 23rd

The minutes of the 67th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (August 1959) have been added.

January 29th

The allocations for the GRC&W Class 100s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

January 27th

A look at the Fisons Weedkilling Coach FA99900, the former Class 100 DTC 56316.

January 21st

A look at the DMU services provided for the British Industries Fair (BIF) in the 1950s.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Gateshead, 08/11/1976: A Class 101 is seen heading northbound past Tyneside Central Freight depot, just to the north / east of the current Gateshead Stadium station. It appears that many of the tracks have already been lifted, yet this facility remained in use until the early 1990s. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

Leaving Ely Station with the 12.50 Birmingham New Street to Norwich are Class 101 M53318 and E54054 (set T216). Surface Stock.

New DMU photo

Class 104 DMC 53504 awaits then end at Vic Berry's yard in Leicester, February 10th 1990. Surface Stock.

New DMU photo

Class 114 DMU E54018 + E53047 at York, July 6, 1987. Surface Stock.

New DMU photo

53958 + 54239 set LO297 arrive at Manchester Piccadilly, February 6, 1992. Surface Stock.


On This Day:

117 DMU

A Class 117 set at Chetnole on the 28th April 1984. 54A South Dock.

124 DMU

Class 124 51960 leads a Hull - Manchester service through Chinley on the 28th April 1984. Originally operated as 6 car sets, this was the final formation with a 124 at one end and a 123 at the other. Mike Dean.

124 DMU

Trans-Pennine 51953 leads a four-car set hammering through Bamford in the Hope Valley on a Hull to Manchester working. When new, these Swindon built units operated in 6 car formation between Liverpool and Hull. They were replaced, largely from the start of the summer '84 timetable by Class 31s, newly fitted with electric train heating. Taken on April 28, 1984. Mike Dean.

104 DMU

Class 104 vehicle 54177 is seen at Vic Berry's scrapyard in Leicester on the 28th April 1988. Dennis Taylor.

104 DMU

53456 at Vic Berry's in Leicester on the 28th April 1988 Dennis Taylor.

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