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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 / Set 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.


June 16th

Official GRC&W photographs of the Class 122s have been added.

June 3rd

The minutes of the 82nd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (March 1961) have been added.

May 27th

Rolls-Royce works photographs and Driving Instructions for 50000/56000 have been added.

May 25th

Official photographs of the Class 107 Refurbishment (October 1978) have been added.

May 24th

Official photographs of the Class 116 Protoype Refurbishment (January 1976) have been added.

May 5th

The minutes of the 81st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1961) have been added.

April 29th

A list of DMU lot numbers has been added with images of worksplates.

April 24th

A look at another DMU accident - a collision between a Class 108 and an engineer's wagon at Carnforth in 1988.

April 14th

A new search option has been added for set data. This will find any formation details so far added to the database for that particular set number, and display any images.

April 7th

The allocations for the twenty-one driver-trailer Class 108 sets delivered to the ER (50599-50619 + 56190-56210) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

April 1st

A look at the introduction of set numbers on the ScR in 1966.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

To commemorate GWR 150 in 1985 a Class 117 set 51410 + 59520 + 51368 was epainted into GWR colours. Looking good on 2/6/1985 the unit is seen approaching Newlands East signal box on a Worcester Foregate Street to Hereford working. At the time allocated to Bristol it eventually moved to Tyseley. Stephen Burdett.

New DMU photo

A class 122/116 combination approach Langley Green with a Birmingham New Street to Kidderminster service on 20/9/1985. In the foreground is the branch to Oldbury used mainly for chlorine traffic. The station here was once known as Oldbury & Langley Green. Stephen Burdett.

New DMU photo

55002 arrives at Stourbridge Junction some 3 minutes after leaving Stourbridge Town. 28/3/1986. Stephen Burdett.

New DMU photo

Class 117 set L421 (presumably 51359 + 59511 + 51401) shelters in the remains of an old steam shed at Worcester before its next duty on the Cotswold line on 16/9/1986. Stephen Burdett.

New DMU photo

Leaving Cradley Heath Class 117 set T315 (presumably 51394 + 59745 + 51352) tackles Old Hill Bank on its way to Birmingham New Street with a service from Kidderminster. March 1990. A standing start from Cradley often posed a task for an ailing dmu as the bank started at 1 in 49 and for the next mile was in the main 1 in 51!, Stephen Burdett.


On This Day:

101 DMU

A Met-Camm and a Met-Camm/Class 108 hybrid cross the Barmouth Bridge on June 23, 1982 Steve Davies Collection.

101 DMU

Met Camm class 101 DMC SC50746 leads the usual 3 car formation with 2V15 16:30 Rosyth to Kirkcaldy at Burntisland on 23rd June 1980. This service was provide for workers at the dockyard at Rosyth. The centre car in the set is a trailer brake second. Bruce Galloway.

derby-lightweight DMU

My time at Derby Station was not very productive due to the very dull weather. There were however some interesting ex-works machines around such as this Derby built DMU. Also seen is a (probably new) Brush type 4. 23/6/64. David Christie.

101 DMU

A Class 101 set is seen arriving into Llangelynin Halt on the Cambrian Coast line on June 23, 1982. Steve Davies Collection.

101 DMU

A Class 101/108 hybrid set is seen near Llangelynin Halt on the Cambrian Coast line on June 23, 1982. Steve Davies Collection.

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