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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.


November 2nd

The minutes of the 87th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (September 1961) have been added.

October 28th

Diagrams for the Swindon Inter-City units (later Class 123) from the mid-1960s have been added, courtesy of Mark Alden.

October 7th

The minutes of the 86th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (August 1961) have been added.

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.

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.

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

Five Cross-Country cars - a 3-car 119 and a 2-car 120 seen at Pentrecourt working the Gilks-Greenside organized 'Educational Special Numbers 7 & 8' in April 1970. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

'Welcome Home Joe' - it seems the whole town on Tywyn has come to greet Joe disembarking from a DMU on June 25, 1982. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

DMBS E79037 on the rear of a Derby Lightweight two-car DMU heading for Norwich, date and location unknown. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

No details with this image; a Cravens set heading for Beccles. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 104 set in Stamford station with a Birmingham service. Date unknown. Steve Davies Collection.


On This Day:

104 DMU

The 'Boomerang' railtour awaiting departure from London Liverpool Street on November 13, 1971. The vehicles are listed on Six Bells Junction as E50564 + E59210 + E50568. John Law.

104 DMU

This railtour at Kensington Olympia circa 1971 seems to be the 'Boomerang No.1' on 13/11/71 which is listed on Six Bells Junction as E50568 + E59210 + E50564. John Law.

118 DMU

A Class 118 DMU at Newcastle on 13/11/1987. DMS 51323 illustrates WM (West Midlands PTE) logo and red triangle across the cab front (minus the Welsh dragon that would usually accompany this). The car behind appears to be a class 101 TBS(L), and TransPennine coach TSO(L) 5396 forms the backdrop. Graeme Phillips Collection.

114 DMU

A refurbished Class 114 is seen attached to a Class 101 / 108 hyrid set heading to Sheffield at Wakefield Kirkgate station on the 13th November 1979. Steve Davies Collection.

114 DMU

E50021 / E56035 pass the home of Cravens at Darnall, Sheffield, on the 13th November 1979. Steve Davies Collection.

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