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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.

New DMU Books

You wait ages on a new DMU book, and then two come along at once! Later this month two hardback books will be released by Strathwood, one looking at the BR Built vehicles, and one looking at those built by outside contractors. Print run is limited to 1,000 copies of each.

DMUs built at BR workshops cover
DMUs built at BR workshops cover


March 12th

The minutes of the 91st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1962) have been added. That's the last of those that I have.

February 24th

A look at the Class 116s in Scotland has been added.

February 3rd

The minutes of the 90th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (January 1962) have been added.

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

Gloucester Class 100 Driving Trailer Composite M56111 stabled with various other items of rolling stock, including two more redundant Class 100 vehicles, at Longsight TMD on June 18th 1978. After BR use, M56111 became an instruction coach on the Ministry of Defence railway system at Moreton-On-Lugg. It was eventually scrapped in 1985. Alongside is the Longsight Overhead Line Maintenance Train, with two former LMS vintage coaches visible. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

Substituting for the non-availablity of a class 142, a Class 108 2-Car DMU returned to its old stamping ground on 16th May 1992. With car 54238 leading, the 08.21 Ormskirk to Preston Service has just returned the single-line token at Midge Hall signalbox. The unit is about to pass through the derelict platforms of the former station, closed in 1961. This was possibly the last occasion when a Class 108 worked along here - possibly also the last visit of a first generation DMU. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

Having arrived in platform 1 at Manchester Piccadilly with a service from Sheffield, former Western Region Class 123 Driving Car E52094 (Complete with its oil tail lamp) was bringing up the rear of a hybrid three-car set on March 18th 1979. At the opposite end was a Class 124 Trans-Pennine car. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

Dating from 1960, one of the stylish Swindon built Class 124 Trans-Pennine DMU sets, with Driving Motor Composite E51960 nearest the camera, was stabled at Longsight Depot on August 31st 1980. Built at Swindon as five-car units including a buffet car, for use between Liverpool and Hull, they were reduced to four-cars towards the end of their careers, some becoming hybrid units with a mix of Class 124 and Class 123 cars. Martyn Hilbert.

New DMU photo

In the low evening light, Class 122 W55003 arrives at Starcross with the 17.22 Paignton to Exmouth on May 29th 1989. Martyn Hilbert.


On This Day:

116 DMU

A mixed-livery Class 116 DMU on a Gospel Oak-Barking service slows down approaching Woodgrange Park Junction in preparation to stop at Woodgrange Park station, 23-03-83. Paul James.

108 DMU

M54250 + M53967 leads another Class 108 departing from Appleby on March 23, 1987. John Carter.

108 DMU

C973 (54267 + 53269) at Cardiff Central 23/3/90. Sparegang.

101 DMU

Class 101 Met Cam DMU NC set 85 (51185 + 54062) at Felixstowe waiting to return to Ipswich on 23-9-90. On Tour with the Class 13 Army.

101 DMU

Sc56395 at Arnott Young, Fighting Cocks, on March 23, 1980. A familiar sight for several years next to the road into Middleton St George was this condemned 101 trailer car. This scrapyard had broken up many steam engines but by this time seemed to handle only occasional items of rolling stock. The site is now a modern housing estate. For a while a SR EMU trailer car resided a short distance away as a dining room attachment to the Fighting Cocks pub John Carter.

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