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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.


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.

August 6th

The minutes of the 84th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (May 1961) have been added.

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

Class 126 DMU vehicles 51043 + 59404 + 51017 at Laurencekirk in May 1983 awaiting road movement to preservation on the Brechin Railway. They had been moved by rail from Dunfermline Townhill where they had been stored since withdrawal during the tendering process. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

Sc51043 leaves BR metals to start a new life in preservation. It is being lowered onto a low-loader at Laurenkirk which will take it to the Brechin Railway. May 1983. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

A Swindon Inter-City Class 126 DMU on Ayr depot, date unknown. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

DMUs in Kyle Street sidings, Ayr, date unknown, probably in the final days of the Class 126 Swindon DMUs, with two sets 126 408 (51038) and 126 413 (51043) visible. On the right are Class 107 and Class 101 vehicles. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

Three 2-car Cravens (later Class 105) DMUs at Hornsea Town station forming a Summer Saturday service to Hull - c.08/1964. Hornsea Town was the eastern terminus of the Hull and Hornsea branchline. The last passenger train between Hull and Hornsea ran on 19th October 1964. Goods traffic continued to use the line as far as Hornsea Bridge until 3rd May 1965. © 2018 - 53A Models of Hull Collection. Scanned by me from the original 35mm monochrome negative. 53A Models of Hull Collection.


On This Day:

121 DMU

Class 121 977860 (ex-55028), set number 960012, is seen at Gerards Cross on sandite duty on 17.10.1999. Andy Cole.

121 DMU

Class 121 977860, set number 960 012, is seen at Gerards Cross on route learning duty, 17.10.1999. Andy Cole.

104 DMU

Class 104 M53516 with M53442 leading at Miles Platting on the 17th October 1987. Kevin Law.

108 DMU

Class 108+104 formed M53971+M54504 + M53536+M54179 at Miles Platting on the 17th October 1987. Kevin Law.

101 DMU

Class 101 M51180 with M54355 on the rear at Ashburys on the 17th October 1987. Kevin Law.

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