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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.


September 8th

Holiday time - there will be reduced daily image uploads until September 20th.

August 28th

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

August 18th

The minutes of the 73rd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (April 1960) have been added.

July 18th

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

July 16th

The minutes of the 72nd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (March 1960) have been added.

June 29th

The allocations for the GRC&W Class 128s and BRC&W Class 110s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

June 19th

The minutes of the 71st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1960) have been added.

June 14th

Eric Stuart remembers the early years of DMUs as he presents his Railcar Memories.

May 24th

The minutes of the 70th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (December 1959) have been added.

May 20th

The allocations for the remainder of the Cravens Class 105s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

May 18th

A more expanded look at the Class 120 DMUs that operated in Scotland. There are two parts, the original seven sets and the late 1980s.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Class 124 unit at Manchester Victoria on 31st May 1980. Ian Buck.

New DMU photo

A class 124 unit sits in Manchester Piccadilly in August 1979. Ian Buck.

New DMU photo

Class 124 unit at Leeds on 26th July 1983. Ian Buck.

New DMU photo

Class 123 unit at Hull in August 1979. Ian Buck.

New DMU photo

Class 123 set at Manchester Piccadilly on 26th July 1983. Ian Buck.


On This Day:

108 DMU

Class 108 DMBS M53938 leads a Class 101 DTS(L) on 21/09/1984. Probably taken in North Wales, the destination blind reads Crewe and the large ship in the background could be the Duke of Lancaster, abandoned there in 1979. Graeme Phillips Collection.

120 DMU

A Swindon built Class 120 calls at Warrington Bank Quay with a service for Manchester Victoria having arrived from Chester. The Lever Brothers factory is on the right. 21st September 1985. The remain of the headlamp bracket show the leading vehicle was once a Cardiff Central Wales line vehicle. S Gaskell.

Random Images:

122 DMU

TDB975227 at Crewe, 16/5/85. Neil Cannon.

121 DMU

55033 at Bridport, date unknown. Steve Davies Collection.

120 DMU

A preservationist inspects the underside of 53672 at MC Metals for parts that could be used on the preserved Swindon unit, then at Brechin. Circa 1989. Andrew McConnell.

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