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This account is intended to give an overview of the types of first-generation Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains and railbuses that could be seen on BR from the 1950s to the 1980s. Their widespread introduction across the country came to be one of the great pillars of the Modernisation of Britains railways throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Put into service in a number of schemes (each scheme covering part of the country) the new trains bright, shiny and modern with wonderful panoramic views replaced thousands of steam engines. For decades they dominated the railway passenger scene, becoming so commonplace as to go almost unnoticed as memories of steam faded.
Third in a series to record in colour and black and white the prototype origins and production lives of the first British Railways diesel locomotives, from halting beginnings in the 1950s to (sometimes) premature ends.
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By Tony Wright
As an unashamed trainspotter of the urchin generation of the 1950s/1960s, as my steam favourites disappeared my life became a natural progression to other activities. Any shabby railway photographs of that time, taken with poor equipment and inadequate expertise, were confined to shoe boxes or discarded. By the time a decent camera was acquired, all but the fag end of steam presented itself, and just a handful of green or maroon diesel pictures were the result. Then, after pursuing the End of Steam 15 Guinea Specials (around Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumberland, in a Ford Zodiac, would you believe?) no more railway pictures were taken. That is until the early 1970s, when after my mothers untimely death and my distraught fathers return to his Yorkshire roots, as part of his recovery he and I went back to the places hed taken my brother and me to watch trains; but this time I did the driving. By then Id acquired a reasonable 35mm camera (a Pentax K1000 the best budget camera in my opinion) and I decided to take some decent railway pictures. But I was astonished at how relatively little the railway infrastructure had changed. Though the flat crossing and South signalbox had gone, Retford still had a forest of semaphore signals, the level crossing gates at Botany Bay were still hand-operated and Black Carr Junction still looked exactly as it had done nearly two decades before. Thus was reborn my interest in photographing railways.