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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.


November 30th, 2016

The minutes of the 64th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (April 1959) have been added.

Nov 26th, 2016

Comments can now be made on images. You must be register as a user to do so.

Nov 13th, 2016

With the increasing number of images on the site (now over 4,500), a new advanced search is available allowing searches by specific dates, regions / areas and liveries.

Nov 6th, 2016

Two official allocation lists are now available - Western Region from 1962 and London Midland Region from 1967.

Oct 28th, 2016

The allocations for the three DMU classes withdrawn in the 1970s - the Class 109 Wickhams, the Orange Star Class 125s, and the Yellow Diamond Class 129 parcel vehicle have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

October 15th, 2016

The minutes of the 63rd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (March 1959) have been added.

October 1st, 2016

The allocations for all Derby Lightweights, and the Rolls-Royce powered Cravens vehicles (51681 - 51780) have now been added to the individual vehicle pages.

September 25th, 2016

A new Class 119 page looking at the liveries that they carried.

September 13th, 2016

Further allocations for Derby Lightweights power cars have been added to the individual vehicle pages, covering all the vehicles to 79188. Also some example formations have been added to the Derby Lightweight and Met-Camm Lightweights vehicle pages numbered up to 79188.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

From my first-ever roll of railway photographs when I was aged thirteen. A Trans-Pennine unit, complete with Buffet car, runs into Botanic Gardens Depot in 1972. On the far left EE Type 4 399 and Brush Type 4 1996, both in green are stabled. On the far right EE Type 2 8316 is also trundling into the sidings. The photograph was taken on a Kodak Instamatic 25 camera and is scanned from a Kodak 126 negative. Syd Young.

New DMU photo

Class 114 55931, converted to a Parcels unit and Cravens Ex-Class 105 TDB977124 which is in Departmental use as a route-learning vehicle await their respective next turns in the bay platforms at York on 14th September 1988. Syd Young.

New DMU photo

A view looking across to Bristol Bath Road Depot on 5th September 1979. Not the greatest of shots by any means (this is a cropped version as I didn't have a large enough telephoto lens at the time), but it shows the sole-surviving Metrovick Co-Bo D5705 awaiting it's fate. Syd Young.

New DMU photo

A 2-car Class 108 DMU arrives at Sellafield on 26th June 1991. In the background 31312 can be seen in the siding with a nuclear flask wagon. Syd Young.

New DMU photo

A Class 101 DMU with E51206 leading departs the Stygian gloom of Manchester Victoria on a dark and wet 28th July 1988. Syd Young.


On This Day:

108 DMU

Class 108 52060 (left) and Class 101 54061 (right) in Doncaster Works, 4th December 1983. Chris Lings.

104 DMU

Class 104 DMBS waits in Doncaster Works on the 4th December 1983. Chris Lings.

104 DMU

Class 104 DMBS is on stands during work at Doncaster Works on the 4th December 1983. Chris Lings.

105 DMU

51278 (left) and 54431 (right) seen at Doncaster on the 4th December 1983. Chris Lings.

121 DMU

977858 passing through Amersham, returning to Aylesbury, on the 4th December 2001. Colin Cooke.

© 1998 - 2016