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 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.


September 25th, 2016

A new Class 119 page looking at the liveries that they carried.

September 13th, 2016

Further allocations for Derby Lightweights power cars have been added to the individual vehicle pages, covering all the vehicles to 79188. Also some example formations have been added to the Derby Lightweight and Met-Camm Lightweights vehicle pages numbered up to 79188.

September 5th, 2016

Two new Class 119 pages - GRCW Works Photographs and BR Works Photographs.

September 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 62nd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (February 1959) have been added.

August 24th, 2016

On the image page you can now do a caption search.

August 21st, 2016

Scottish Region set formations for February 1981 have been added.

July 23th, 2016

The allocations for the ER & NER Derby Lightweights have been added to the individual vehicle pages, also the original batch of West Cumberland Lightweights (79008-20, 79600-12).

July 16th, 2016

The allocations for the Met-Camm Lightweights have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79047 - 79082, 79263 - 79291, or 79626 - 79632) in the vehicle data box above.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

101659 (54352 + 51213) seen in Manchester Piccadilly station in July 1996. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Taken circa 1988 / 1989, ER Class 101 2-car set 67 is seen at an unknown location. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Two Class 116 sets - date and location unknown - but with Pontypridd on the blinds they are probably in South Wales. W50895 is the closest vehicle. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

BRCW class 110 'Calder Valley' DMU at Dent heading north under a foreboding sky, 29/Jul/1989. DMCL 51829 is leading DMBC 52066 and the set number is NL411 - set numbers were allocated but not carried at Neville Hill. Robert Chilton.

New DMU photo

BRCW class 110 with DMCL no. 52081 leading, at Sheffield filling up with passengers prior to departing for Ilkley, 10/Jun/1987. Robert Chilton.


On This Day:

108 DMU

51420 (marked N616) + 54056 (marked N618) empties it's passengers at Tinsley during an open day on 29/9/90. Hamish Stevenson.

124 DMU

E51957 awaiting departure from Hull Paragon on the 29th September 1982. Syd Young.

115 DMU

A Class 115 at Bicester on 29/9/85 with M51880 closest. Ian McDonald.

115 DMU

A study of M51880 at Bicester on 29/9/85. Ian McDonald.

115 DMU

A Class 115 at Bicester on 29/9/85 with M51880 closest. Ian McDonald.

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