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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 16st

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.

September 21st

The minutes of the 74th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (June 1960) have been added.

August 28th

The allocations for the Derby Class 114s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

July 18th

A more detailed look at the Class 114s in parcel use has been added.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Class 101 centre car M59528 on top of the stack at Vic Berry's in Leicester. Just seen on the right is 977608 (51525) which was there for asbestos removal. Surface Stock.

New DMU photo

An ex-works Class 101 DMBS and a Mark I coach seen in the sidings in March, Cambridgeshire, circa 1971. John Law.

New DMU photo

Mixed livery Class 116 set 141 in Saltcoats station in 1979. John Law.

New DMU photo

101303 (with an all-blue centre car) in Paisley Gilmour Street station with a Glasgow Central - Largs service in 1982. The closest vehicle is probably 50292, transferred from Dundee to Eastfield in March that year, then onto Haymarket at the end of summer. John Law.

New DMU photo

Two Manchester - Blackpool white stripe Class 104s stabled in Newton Heath depot, date unknown. John Law.


On This Day:

101 DMU

Class 101 56333 is seen stabled outside the factory at Tyseley on 22.11.1981. The car carries the early refurbished all over white livery. Andy Cole.

122 DMU

Class 122 55005 is seen stabled outside the factory at Tyseley on 22.11.1981. Transferred from Dundee earlier in the year, it still carries a 'SC' prefix to the number. Andy Cole.

120 DMU

ScotRail hybrid d.m.u. (53724 (120) on the rear + 59303 (101) + 51240 (101)) departs Ayr with the 11.00 Ayr to Girvan train, 22-11-1986. A classic smoky DMU departure, not long before Class 156 Sprinters took over. Gordon Thomson.

117 DMU

Class 117 and 101 DMU's at Moor street on the 22nd November 1975. The 117 appears to be L424 making the DMBS closest 51373. The mk11 and mk1 coaches were part of an exhibition train as l remember. Inside were examples of the latest upgrades to track, signaling etc via films and photographs. 54A South Dock.

Random Image:

101 DMU

Set 106 in Brampton on the 7th September 1986. David Underwood.

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