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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.


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.

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.

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 4-car Class 101/108 hybrid unit is seen departing Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear, with the 1740 Newcastle-Tynemouth on 28/09/1976. One of three such extra peak hour services, all of which unusually ran non-stop between Jesmond and West Monkseaton. This service called at Whitley Bay at 1803, nine minutes faster than the usual all stations services. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 108 DMU at Alston, 02/11/1974. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

A Class 101 DMU at Newcastle, 19/04/1980. DMBS E51209 is nearest the camera, the furthest car seems to be still in plain blue livery. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

Newcastle Station - East end Concourse, on 21/01/1978. This was the Saturday prior to withdrawal of BR services between Manors and West Monkseaton via Benton. There appears to be some kind of electronic information boards, although not for platform 2. The paper notice stands are presumably about arrangements for replacement bus services. A Class 104, typical traction at the time, is behind the red ticket inspector's kiosk. Graeme Phillips Collection.

New DMU photo

Class 103 and 101 DMUs call at Rhyl, North Wales, on 04/09/1980 with the 13:41 Bangor-Manchester. Graeme Phillips Collection.


On This Day:

100 DMU

DB975637 and DB975664 in York station on August 19, 1980. John Carter.

101 DMU

101364 calls at Haymarket station with the 17.18 Edinburgh - Bathgate train on 19-08-1986. 53268 leads, presumably with 59080 and 53242 behind. Gordon Thomson.

116 DMU

The cutting of W53848 (C374) is nearly complete when seen at Vic Berry's on August 19, 1990. Surface Stock.

116 DMU

Various suburban vehicles can be seen at Vic Berry's on August 19, 1990, including W59359. Surface Stock.

101 DMU

101360 arrives into Haymarket station with the 15:32 Glasgow Central - Edinburgh Waverley service on 19-08-1986. Gordon Thomson.

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