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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.


December 6th

Drivers Instructions for Wickhams, Cravens and Met-Camm Lightweights have been added.

December 4th

The minutes of the 88th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (November 1961) have been added.

November 18th

R14 gearbox promotional brochure, service manual and assembly instructions have been added.

November 2nd

The minutes of the 87th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (September 1961) have been added.

October 28th

Diagrams for the Swindon Inter-City units (later Class 123) from the mid-1960s have been added, courtesy of Mark Alden.

October 7th

The minutes of the 86th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (August 1961) have been added.

September 9th

The minutes of the 85th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (June 1961) have been added.

September 1st

The section on the Red Triangle Derby Lightweights has been expanded to include adverts, works photos and drivers instructions.

August 18th

Drivers Instructions for the Yellow Diamond Derby Lightweights have been added.

August 15th

Works photographs for the Rolls Royce powered Met-Camms have been added: LMR 2-cars, early NER 3-cars and later NER 3-cars.

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Awaiting departure from Platform 4 at Glasgow Queen Street station on the 5th April 1985 is Ayr allocated Class 104 set 367 formed of DMCL 53510, TBSL 59210 & DMCL 53565. All arrived in Scotland from the Manchester area during early 1984. Their stay was fairly brief as all three were scrapped at Vic Berry's yard in Leicester during July 1986. Bob Woolnough.

New DMU photo

A two-car Met-Camm set with Sc56393 on the rear at Dundee in 1958. Dundee (West) is on the destination blind. George Bett.

New DMU photo

Sc51245 leads two two-car Met-Camms on the 3pm Dundee - Perth leaving Dundee on May 17th, 1959. George Bett.

New DMU photo

Sc56400 (presumably with 51242) at Dundee on July 14th, 1958, thought to be on a crew training run. George Bett.

New DMU photo

56383 + 51225 lead another set at Dundee on the 11am to Perth, 13 March 1959. George Bett.


On This Day:

114 DMU

Wednesday 16th December 1981 began very foggy, there's also been some snow and it's frozen hard. A two car 114 DMU emerges from the fog at Mountsorrel Sidings, Barrow upon Soar working the 1230 Nottingham - Leicester local service. These were great units, based at Lincoln with extremely good heaters & a nice long 'bed' in their 3 + 2 seating arrangement although the blue check upholstery fabric could chafe your face so I always tried to sleep on my back. John Simmonds.

115 DMU

An Albion powered Derby Quad set waits in Birmingham New Street ready to form the 4.23pm to Derby. M51665 is closest, M51663 is on the far end. Michael Mensing.

115 DMU

A class 115 at Marylebone on 16th December 1978. Ian Buck.

115 DMU

Class 115 set at Chalfont and Latimer on 16th December 1978. Ian Buck.

115 DMU

A class 115 set awaits departure from Aylesbury for Marylebone on 16th December 1978. Ian Buck.

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