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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.



Normal daily image uploads wll resume after September 23rd. If you have any images you would like to contribute before then please do.

September 9th

The minutes of the 85th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (June 1961) have been added.

September 1st

The section on the Red Triangle Derby Lightweights has been expanded to include adverts, works photos and drivers instructions.

August 18th

Drivers Instructions for the Yellow Diamond Derby Lightweights have been added.

August 15th

Works photographs for the Rolls Royce powered Met-Camms have been added: LMR 2-cars, early NER 3-cars and later NER 3-cars.

August 6th

The minutes of the 84th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (May 1961) have been added.

July 16th

Official photographs of the Class 116 Production Refurbishment (circa April 1977) have been added.

July 9th

A look at the standardisation of set numbers on the LMR in 1969.

July 7th

The minutes of the 83rd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (April 1961) have been added.

June 16th

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

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A rare sight of a Gloucester RC&W Class 122 Single Unit, M55006 coupled to the rear of a 2-Car Class 108 departing from Croston with an Ormskirk to Preston service on August 5th 1985. Newton Heath Depot had a pair of Class 122s allocated for use on the Stockport to Stalybridge services, but the appearance of one on the Ormskirk Line was almost certainly a one-off. The former Jubilee Mill complex that forms a backdrop here has now been demolished and replaced with houses. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

A 2-Car Class 108 DMU, with M50955 leading passes Cocker Bar, Ulnes Walton with a Preston to Ormskirk Service on New Years Eve, 1982. The Distant Signal is for Preston bound trains approaching Midge Hall. The former main line was singled west of Midge Hall in 1970, all trains now use what was the former Down Line. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

With the restored Class 503 EMU in the adjacent platform, a 2-Car Class 108 DMU with M53929 leading, awaits departure from Southport with a service to Manchester Victoria on September 28th 1985. That chap seems to be looking at something of interest inside the door vestibule of that 108. This was the period when the first generation DMU fleet was on the way out, and time-honoured scenes such as this became a thing of the past as shiny new Class 142s and 150s came on stream. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

On September 23rd 1984 the Newton Heath based Gloucester/Cravens twin set, 53355/53812 was being used on a shuttle service from the Steamport Museum to Southport Station as part of a joint open day. In this view the set has just left Steamport and is heading towards St Lukes before reversing back towards Southport Station. Note that the disused island platform at St Lukes was still in existance, despite the station closing in 1968. This section of line also carried the electrics to Meols Cop, Hesketh Park, Churchtown and Crossens, sadly lost in an act of wanton vandalism and stupidity when the line from Preston to Southport was closed in September 1964. Had the electric service survived it would now be well patronised and could have formed the basis of a park and ride from the A565 near Banks that would have relieved Southport of much traffic. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

The shuttle service between platform 6 at Southport and the Steamport Museum in the former MPD at Derby Road was being operated by a Class 108 DMU formed of cars M51936 & M52051 with 03189 providing the power on September 11th 1982. Martyn Hilbert.


On This Day:

108 DMU

The 11:50 Carlisle - Lancaster service arrives into Bootle led by M56256 on September 22, 1981. Hamish Stevenson.

127 DMU

Converted parcels DMU 55970/55980 at Bletchley on 22 September 1986. Lewis Bevan.

121 DMU

Pressed Steel double-ender W55027 arrives at Didcot on September 22nd, 1961 with the 1.57pm Newbury - Didcot working. Michael Mensing.

120 DMU

A Class 120 DMU with W51781 at the front is seen in Ayr station on September 22, 1986, beside one of the EMUs which would replace it on the Ayr - Glasgow line. The ex-Cardiff vehicle (sent north to cover for the out-of-traffic Class 107s) was transferred to Haymarket the following week. WS Sellar.

101 DMU

101678 (53746 & 51210) at Sheffield on a Hope Valley service 22nd September 1998. Ian Buck.

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