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 images of First Generation DMUs (not preserved vehicles)? A handful of volunteers are needed to test out a prototype section of the website allowing users to upload their own images directly onto the site. If you are able to help please get in touch.


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 24th, 2016

On the image page you can now do a caption search.

August 21st, 2016

Scottish Region set formations for February 1981 have been added.

July 23th, 2016

The allocations for the ER & NER Derby Lightweights have been added to the individual vehicle pages, also the original batch of West Cumberland Lightweights (79008-20, 79600-12).

July 16th, 2016

The allocations for the Met-Camm Lightweights have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79047 - 79082, 79263 - 79291, or 79626 - 79632) in the vehicle data box above.

July 10th, 2016

The allocations for the railbuses have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79958 - 79979) in the vehicle data box above.

July 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 61st Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (January 1959) have been added.

June 30th, 2016

A new option in the image section lets you look at the available images from any month / year. Useful for viewing what the DMU scene was like at a particular time period?

June 8th, 2016

The Class 116 livery page had been enhanced to include a more detailed look at the liveries carried over the years.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A Met-Camm Lightweight unit seen at East Suffolk Junction on the 4th June 1966. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

A Swindon Cross-Country Class 120 unit during a stop on the Central Wales line. Date and location unknown. A member of staff appears to be inspecting the engine or other underframe component. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

A 2-car Class 118 seen crossing Calstock viaduct on the 3rd July 1981. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 108 with Keswick on its destination blind at Blencow on 22 June 1970. Steve Davies Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 110 unit seen at Batley on the 15th June 1983. Steve Davies Collection.


On This Day:

123 DMU

E52090 + E59819 + E59838 + E52096 at Morecambe Promenade after an arrival from Leeds on 27 August 1982. Robert Frise.

105 DMU

51259 sits at the buffers at Sheringham on 27-8-81. Chris Lings.

115 DMU

Aylesbury on the 27th August 1979, with M51672 in blue & grey. Robert Frise.

111 DMU

Met-Camm ex-buffet SC59778 during its time in Scotland when it was based at Dundee, seen at Edinburgh Waverley on 27/8/79. Basil Hancock.

124 DMU

A Class 124 Trans-Pennine set at York on 27/08/1976, led by DMC no. 51963. Robert Chilton.

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