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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 / Set 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.


July 16th

Official photographs of the Class 116 Production Refurbishment (circa April 1977) have been added.

July 9th

A look at the standardisation of set numbers on the LMR in 1969.

July 7th

The minutes of the 83rd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (April 1961) have been added.

June 16th

Official GRC&W photographs of the Class 122s have been added.

June 3rd

The minutes of the 82nd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (March 1961) have been added.

May 27th

Rolls-Royce works photographs and Driving Instructions for 50000/56000 have been added.

May 25th

Official photographs of the Class 107 Refurbishment (October 1978) have been added.

May 5th

The minutes of the 81st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1961) have been added.

April 29th

A list of DMU lot numbers has been added with images of worksplates.

April 24th

A look at another DMU accident - a collision between a Class 108 and an engineer's wagon at Carnforth in 1988.

April 7th

The allocations for the twenty-one driver-trailer Class 108 sets delivered to the ER (50599-50619 + 56190-56210) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A Express Parcels Class 120 Swindon Cross-Country set at Leeds circa 1986. The vehicles (M51573 + M51582) still carry set number EP503 from their time at Etches Park depot. Ian Charles.

New DMU photo

Liskeard Station on November 1st 1986 hosts Laira Class 118 DMU set P463 (51320 and 51305) during a Midland Railfans visit. Ian Charles.

New DMU photo

Eastern Region General Managers Saloon DB975539 + DB975349 in York station in 1979. Ian Charles.

New DMU photo

Class 118/117 hybrid set P470 (51328 + 59509 + 51313) at Paignton in April 1978. Ian Charles.

New DMU photo

A bybrid Class 120/101 set with a two-car Met-Camm on the rear at Wolverhampton. Date unknown. Ian Charles.


On This Day:

114 DMU

An oval buffered refurbished Class 114 set seen in Cleethorpes in the morning of 23 July 1981. Another Class 114 with DMBS E50047 is on the right. Lewis Bevan.

101 DMU

Two three-car Met-Camm sets form the 4.5pm Whitby (Town) - Middlesborough service seen west of Ruswarp, near the River Esk, on July 23, 1958. The front set, led by motor composite E50186, appears to have two vehicles with brake vans. Michael Mensing.

108 DMU

23/07/1977: Class 108 E50601 E56192 are seen heading out of Newcastle. Does anyone know the history of this unit operating in the north-east? Was it a demonstrator for the refurbishment programme? There are plenty of photos showing unrefurbished Class 108s in the area in blue livery up to around 1977, but this is the only example I've seen in Refurbished livery, as if they were transferred away at refurbishment. Unrefurbished Class 104s and 105s seemed to appear at around the same time as replacements - was the north-east treat like the poor relation and sent tatty units while Yorkshire got the refurbished ones? Graeme Phillips Collection.

101 DMU

101332 arrives into Glasgow Queen Street with the 16.35 from Falkirk Grahamston on 23-07-1987. Gordon Thomson.

120 DMU

A Class 120 DMU leaves Glasgow Queen Street with the 17:11 service to Cumbernauld on 23-07-1987. Gordon Thomson.

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