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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.


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.

June 16th

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

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

Standing in Oban yard on 1st June 1985 are two former Buxton allocated 'White Roofed' class 104 DMU power cars, which now form 104325 'The Mexican Bean' and allocated to Eastfield Depot as their SC53434 and SC53424, for services on the 42 mile Crianlarich to Oban branch for the summer tourist traffic, they worked three summer seasons for ScotRail and the Highlands & Islands Tourist Board being taken out of use in the autumn of 1987. Andrew J Crowther.

New DMU photo

Norwich allocated Cravens class 105 dmu made up of cars E53375 & E54468, stands at the then newly opened Roughton Road station on the outskirts of Cromer, with a Sheringham-Norwich service. 20th August 1985. Andrew J Crowther.

New DMU photo

Myself and my Uncle Norman eating our lunch on what looks to be a lovely sunny day, with two Norwich allocated Cravens class 105 dmu's ticking over next to us. 21st August 1985. Andrew J Crowther.

New DMU photo

The guard of our Norwich allocated Cravens class 105 dmu on a Great Yarmouth-Norwich via Reedham service, is about to open the bake van doors to let the two cyclists board at Berney Arms, which is situated on the Halvergate Marches. Boarded by the RSPB Berney Marches and Breydon Water, it is no surprise that this remote station is one of the least used stations in the country, although three people seem to be boarding here. 21st August 1985. Andrew J Crowther.

New DMU photo

Taken from a Norwich allocated Craven class 105 dmu on a Lowestoft-Norwich service, curving round towards the 1902 built Reedham Swing Bridge that spans the Riner Yare. Reedham Swing Bridge Signal box that stands on the south bank of the river adjacent to the bridge can just be seen in front of the train. 21st August 1985. Andrew J Crowther.


On This Day:

104 DMU

A BRC&W built 2 car class 104 dmu on either a Manchester Piccadilly-Rose Hill or a New Mills Central service, passes high over the River Goyt at 124ft on the 918 ft long 1865 built Marple Viaduct on 15th November 1988, captured from the adjacent Marple Aqueduct. Andrew J Crowther.

121 DMU

Class 121 55033, set number TS083, is seen at Tyseley during it's repaint into Midline livery on 15.11.1986. Andy Cole.

122 DMU

Class 122 55002 is seen withdrawn at Tyseley on 15.11.1986. It had been stripped of useful parts and was waiting to go to Vic Berry's for scrapping. Andy Cole.

119 DMU

With car 51086 leading class 119 set L595 at Godstone on 15th November 1988. Ian Buck.

120 DMU

53706 + 59281 + 53652 at Falkirk Grahamston, having arrived with the 12:08 from Glasgow Queen Street on the 15th November 1986. Hamish Stevenson.

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