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.


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.

September 5th, 2016

Two new Class 119 pages - GRCW Works Photographs and BR Works Photographs.

September 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 62nd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (February 1959) have been added.

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

The Derby Lightweight Ultrasonic Test Train 975007 + 975008 rests at an unknown station, circa July 1987. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

The Ultrasonic Test Train 975008 + 975007 seen entering an unknown station circa July 1987. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Former ScR Class 120 M51786 has Blackpool on its destination blind as it enters an unknown station, circa September 1984. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

Refurbished Class 115 DMBS M51653 at Quainton Road with 'The Quaintonian' shuttle from Aylesbury. The image is undated, but was probably taken on 28/8/78 when this vehicle operated the service. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 128 DMPV and Class 130 DMBS are working together as set 344, seen passing Southall depot. Undated. Stuart Mackay Collection.


On This Day:

117 DMU

T302 (which was C422 a couple of months before) seen entering Birmingham's Moor St on 23/10/87 (cars 51360 + 59512 + 51402). Mac Winfield.

Random Images:

120 DMU

A Class 120 heads away from the camera towards Williton having just left Watchet and passed under the Doniford Road bridge, 22/7/68. Photographer unknown. Stuart Mackay Collection.

101 DMU

2-car Class 101 set C802 and a 3-car 119 with two DMBCs (and an awfully high ratio of 1st to 2nd class!) pass Dynevor Junction, on the Swansea District Line (which bypasses Swansea) & was heading for West Wales. Tom Clift.

125 DMU

E51006 in storage at March, Undated. Robert White.

116 DMU

W53820 of C307 displays its white roof dome and red buffer beam, a-la Buxton style. This was CFs only white dome unit and later became one of only two 116s to gain NSE livery the other being W53083 which is the other DMBS in this set at Cardiff Central circa 1987. Mac Winfield.

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