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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.


February 17th

A feature by Jonathan Horswell on the unofficial names that appeared in the 1980/90s.

February 5th

The allocations for the BRC&W Class 104 DTC and centre cars (56175-89, 59132-234, 59240-4) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

February 3rd

The minutes of the 78th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (October 1960) have been added.

January 25th

The allocations for the BRC&W Class 104 power cars (50420-50598) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

January 21st

The Class 127 Works Photos have been added.

December 15th

The minutes of the 77th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (September 1960) have been added.

November 16th

The minutes of the 76th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (August 1960) have been added.

November 11th

Three new destination blinds have been added, from Chester in the late 1980s, from the Scottish Region in the early 1980s, and from the North Eastern Region circa late '80s/early '90s.

October 31st

The minutes of the 75th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (July 1960) have been added.

October 29th

The allocations for the Derby Class 107s have been added to the individual vehicle pages. Also the Class 107 operations page has been re-written.

October 27th

A new destination blind, from Marylebone in the 1970s has been added.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

The 11:07 Glasgow - Kilmacolm service is seen near Kilmacolm on January 8th, 1983, the last day of services on the line. 56464 is closest, with 51301 and 50384. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

On the last day of Kilmacolm services, January 8th, 1983, E56464 leads 51301 and 50384 near Kilmacolm. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

A Class 105/101 hybrid set at Drem with a North Berwick - Edinburgh service on June 10th. labeled set 375 (this end) and set 378 (opposite end), the centre car appears to be one of the Met-Camm buffet cars. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

A Class 105/101 hybrid set on North Berwick - Edinburgh duties at Drem on June 9, 1981. The set is labeled 375 at this end, 375 at the other. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

A 105/101 hybrid set at Drem with an Edinburgh - North Berwick service on June 9th, 1981. The 105 DMBS closest is labeled set 378, the Class 105 DMBS at the far end is labeled set 375. Once clue to the centre car being of a different type is the roof vents are in three row rather than two. Hamish Stevenson.


On This Day:

119 DMU

Class 119 set L 575 at Redhill on 20th February 1987. Ian Buck.

121 DMU

55026 rolls into Stapleton Road from Severn Beach on the 20th February 1989. Ian Buck.

107 DMU

107436 (presumably 51997 + 59784 + 52024) approaches the terminus with the 14.45 Kilmarnock - Glasgow Central train on 20-02-1988. Gordon Thomson.

100 DMU

Standing in Manchester Piccadilly's platform 3 on the 20th February 1988 is a hybrid unit that had a bit of a following around the Manchester area. It comprised of 1957 Gloucester built Class 100 DMBS (M53355) and 1958 built Cravens Class 105 DMCL (M53812). Both cars were asbestos free which was the reason they were the last of their class in service, they were withdrawn towards the end of 1988. Andrew J Crowther.

104 DMU

BRC&W Class 104 DMU M53518 + M53451 calls at Reddish South with the shuttle from Stockport to Stalybridge, a service that ran hourly, on the 20th February 1988. Andrew J Crowther.

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