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Branchline Gala

Our Branchline Gala takes place this weekend, between 12th-14th April and will see 4 steam locomotives and two diesel trains in service.

Matthew Davies, Volunteer Gala Organiser, explained; “Over winter, our staff and volunteers have been working flat-out to get the railway ready for 2024. We wanted to kick the season off in fine-style with the biggest event we have held since before the pandemic. Our Branchline Gala will see a packed timetable using our beautifully restored locomotives, carriages and wagons. Our 1930-built Great Western pannier tank No 7754 will be formally rededicated to traffic after a restoration that has taken nearly 20 years to complete with volunteer labour. I am a member of the team that worked on her and we put in many hundreds of hours to get her back in steam. It was a long slog but seeing her working again has been worth every minute!  We will also be welcoming our Great Western heavy freight locomotive No 3802 back in steam for the first time 21/2 years following comprehensive overhaul work. At the other end of the scale we also have two diminutive industrial tank locomotives at work. One, ex Longbridge car factory tank engine “Austin 1” has been with us for 50 years and was the very first steam locomotive to work on our railway when it was reopened by our founding preservation society. Finally, ex-Bold colliery Austerity locomotive No 68067 (one of the last steam engines to work in British industry) will be operating her last trains with us before heading back to her home railway following an 18 month stay1958-built Class 26 diesel locomotive No 5310 and our two car Class 108 diesel railcar complete our impressive line-up”.

7754 and 3802 will both be rededicated to service at a short ceremony to be held at 9:45am at Llangollen Station on Friday 12th April, before both locomotives double-head an 8 coach special train to Corwen.

Visitors can also enjoy a visit to our scenic countryside stations at Berwyn, Glyndyfrdwy and Carrog. The tea rooms at Llangollen and Berwyn stations will be open all weekend. A café and real ale bar in a charming converted parcels van can also be enjoyed at Glyndyfrdwy station. This usually quiet station will become a bustling hub for the weekend with services passing one another and a shuttle train running to Corwen and back.

Matt added “We’re trying to offer visitors the chance to do something different. As well as being able to travel on traditional passenger carriages, Austin 1 is hauling a short train of brake vans, which folk can travel in. This will give a glimpse of what moving freight around the railways was like for well over 100 years before road transport took nearly all freight traffic away from rural branchlines, many of which then closed – like our railway did in 1964”.

Tom Taylor, Llangollen Railway Trust Manager added. “We’re so excited about showcasing how far our railway has come in just 3 years this weekend. Matt and the team have done a brilliant job planning this event. There has already been tremendous interest and we’ve sold more advanced tickets for it through our website than any other event in the railway’s recent history”.