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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.


January 12th

A look at the brief use of Derby Lightweights in Lincolnshire has been added.

January 5th

The minutes of the 89th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (December 1961) have been added.

December 25th

A look at the Derby Lightweights operating in West Cumberland has been added.

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 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.

July 16th

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

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

53867 at Wolverhampton on 18/04/87, almost certainly forming a Shrewsbury line service. Steve Jones.

New DMU photo

M50069 at Monument Lane on 03/11/78, at the rear of a formation just plunging into the tunnel to Birmingham New Street station. Viewed from St Vincent Street, this historic site is now buried beneath the National Indoor Arena. Steve Jones.

New DMU photo

An unidentified Class 116 at Proof House Junction on 11/04/87. Steve Jones.

New DMU photo

M53903 leaving Five Ways, Birmingham on 07/07/84. Steve Jones.

New DMU photo

M53067 at Five Ways, Birmingham on 07/07/84. Steve Jones.


On This Day:

122 DMU

1958 built Class 122 DMBS SC55015 entered service in 1958 and was converted to a Class 131 MPV during September 1971. In this image taken on the 22nd September 1978 she is stabled for the weekend at Haymarket MPD, Edinburgh attached to a 3 Car Class 101 DMU. The 'Parcels Use Only' branding is visible but not readable low down on the far left bodyside of the vehicle. Following use as a driver training vehicle from September 1983 until July 1989 she was withdrawn from service and scrapped at MC Metals, Glasgow during July 1990. Bob Woolnough.

101 DMU

Burnt out Class 101 DMCL SC51540 is seen dumped in Millerhill Yard, east of Edinburgh on the 22nd January 1978. The vehicle caught fire at Bathgate Junction whilst working the 08:04 Perth to Edinburgh Waverley service on the 31st December 1976 and withdrawn during January 1977. It was scrapped in Millerhil C&W Yard during March 1978 shortly after this image was taken. Bob Woolnough.

127 DMU

DMBS M51635 leads a pair of class 127 4-car units at St.Pancras waiting to work another service to Bedford. Saturday 22nd January 1983 Iain Reid.

101 DMU

Class 101 DMBS 50232 with DTCL 56399 trailing, rattles along near Middlesbrough on 22/Jan/1983. Robert Chilton.

105 DMU

E51274 and E56084 seen at Manors on 22 January 1978. Ian Francis.

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