BR First Generation DMUs – Hugh Longworth

BR First Generation DMUs by Hugh Longworth is likely to be regarded as a definitive work on the subject. The level of statistical detail provided by Hugh Longworth is incredible, providing depot allocations and composition of units, and will satisfy the most hardened DMU enthusiasts and the modeller who wants to be absolutely accurate with the DMUs he runs.

If you want to know anything about the composition or allocation of a particular First Generation Diesel Multiple Unit or (Southern Region) Diesel Electric Multiple Unit, it’s in this book. It also covers some GWR railcars and the four wheeled Wickham (etc) type railbuses.

You’ll find when each coach (powered and un-powered) was introduced and withdrawn, and the allocation of each unit from 1960 to date, in ten year increments. There’s a potted history of each type of DMU and DEMU in class order too, and an overview of how such vehicles came into being following the second world war.

The book is in 6 parts covering the BR first generation DMU comprehensively:

  • Part 1 – DMUs in class order
    • TOPS classes
    • Pre-TOPS classes
  • Part 2 – DEMU types with details of classes
    • Original number series
    • TOPS renumbered units
    • Departmental units
    • Blue Pullman units
  • Part 3 – DEMU coaches showing units
  • Part 4 – Full listing of individual coaches
  • Part 5 – DMU allocations
  • Part 6 – DMU formations


  • 1 – Year End Totals
  • 2 – BR Lot Numbers
  • 3 – DMU Diagram Numbers

There’s a black and white photograph of each type of unit and every coach type is illustrated with a small (around 3″ long) side elevation and plan (interior layout) line drawing. There are also front elevation drawings to the same scale. These are accompanied by concise details of power units, coupling types and so forth.

The drawings have no dimensions and are too small to be of much use to modellers, other than to check if they’ve got the windows or seats in the right order. There are also no photographs of anything other than complete units in service, and only relatively brief engineering details or specifications.

Liveries are given only a few lines, but the author admits he didn’t intend to cover them in detail.

I’m afraid I don’t think modellers will find it that useful but if you want to know exactly which DMU worked when and where, and have a good idea about the general history of every class, this must now be the definitive work on the subject.

First introduced in the early 1950s, the diesel multiple-unit represented an attempt to produce a vehicle that would replace steam traction on the countrys branch lines and secondary routes at a time when the railway industry was in desperate need of a cheaper alternative to steam in order to improve the finances of these increasingly unremunerative lines. Initially introduced in areas such as the north west of England, the West Riding of Yorkshire and East Anglia, the arrival of the new and much cleaner Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) undoubtedly helped to stem both the loss of passenger traffic and improve, at least briefly, the economics of the lines over which they operated. Between the early 1950s and the start of the following decade, several thousand of these units were produced by a variety of manufacturers for service nationwide. However, despite the cost savings that these units represented, the financial position of the railways continued to deteriorate with the result that many of the lines for which they were designed were closed in the wake of the Beeching Report. Following refurbishment from the early 1970s onwards, many first generation DMUs were to survive in service until the late 1980s or early 1990s. Indeed a handful can still be found in operation almost 50 years after the first of the type entered service. Although most were scrapped after withdrawal, a significant number of these vehicles have been preserved on the nations heritage railways. In 2005 OPC published Hugh Longworths British Railway Steam Locomotives 1948-1968. This definitive listing of every steam locomotive operated by BR between 1948 and 1968 was one of the most successful railway titles of 2005 and was quickly reprinted on three occasions. Having examined the steam locomotive fleet in detail, Hugh Longworth now turns his attention to all of the first generation DMUs constructed. As with the earlier book, each type is covered in detail with information given about construction, technical specifications, entry into service, withdrawal and its fate.