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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.


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.

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.

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

In July 1963 Derby suburban triple set 301 with W50097 leading and a GRC&W Cross-Country set are seen between Olton and Solihull. Michael Mensing.

New DMU photo

In August 1966 a Derby suburban set is seen at Bearly (South Warwickshire). Michael Mensing.

New DMU photo

On August 10, 1978, hybrid Class 116/101 set TS552 (presumably 50123 + 59543 + 50081) leads another Class 116 set south of Erdington Station with the 5.59pm Longbridge - Lichfield City service. Michael Mensing.

New DMU photo

Refurbished Class 116 set TS551 (50871 closest, presumably with 59328 + 50852) in Redditch station in the Spring of 1979. Michael Mensing.

New DMU photo

Class 116 set C316 (53909 leading, presumably with 59364 + 53856) arrives into Gilfach Fargoed station in 1986. Michael Mensing.


On This Day:

116 DMU

53093 at Derby on the front of set T323 (presumably with 59724 + 53818) and with set T325 on the rear at Derby with the 09:00 Birmingham New Street - Skegness on Friday 18th August 1989. Colin Brooks.

108 DMU

A three-car Chaster Class 108 set is seen at Gaerwen Junction, for the Amlwch branch, on 18 August 1989. Lewis Bevan.

104 DMU

104 Set CH610 awaits its Driver as departure time nears for the 14:22 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog at Llandudno on Friday 18th August 1989. Note 104 Set CH 606 (white roof) tucked away to the left. Colin Brooks.

101 DMU

W51445 and W59549 are seen arriving at Dilton Marsh with the 4.44pm Salisbury - Bristol Temple Meads service on August 18th, 1979. Michael Mensing.

105 DMU

Before the introduction of the RETB signalling on the East Suffolk line, a pair of Cravens Class 105 units leave a smokescreen over Lowestoft as they depart on the 12.55 to Ipswich on Thursday August 18th 1983. Set 42 has E51272 & E56443 leading with set 46 E56434 + E51273 trailing. Both units were reallocated to Norwich from Finsbury Park in February 1978. Gerard Fletcher.

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