2013 Gala

The Double Bubble Thrash and Tunnel Gala.

The 2013 event featured visits by two of the popular single coach "bubble cars" which were built for British Railways in the late 1950s/early 1960s. One of these was 121032, which was the final first-generation DMU to operate in Wales, being withdrawn only a few months before the gala date. Chiltern Railways, which owned the vehicle, kindly allowed it to appear at the gala where it was joined by Gloucester-built Class 122, from the Battlefield Line. This unit was in completely original condition, particularly on the inside and proved an interesting comparison to the highly-modified Class 121.

The Gala was the most successful to date, with very good attendances, and a lot of interest shown in the visiting units. As well as 16 trains each way each day the Gala featured an evening barbecue and social event which was well patronised. There was also a final appearance for the Llangollen Line's popular auto train, at least for now, as the locomotive's boiler ticket ran out the week after the event, and one of the coaches requires heavy engineering work.

Class 122

Each morning the first train of the day was a nine-car unit, with six power cars and three trailers which proved to be quite a sight on the climb up to the Berwyn tunnel. With all the engines cold there was also plenty of clag as the train, which had examples of Classes 104/108/109/122 and 127 in it, approaches Berwyn Station. This was the only service of the day which ran non-stop between Llangollen and Carrog. Photo By Jack Bowley.

9 Car

Another view of the nine-car train, this time on its return journey, as it accelerates away from Glyndyfrdwy Station towards Deeside Halt. Photo By Jack Bowley.


This remarkable picture shows some of the participants lined up at the Pentrefelin Depot the day before the event. From left to right we have Class 121 single car 55032 in Arriva colours, Class 108 56223 in BR Green, Class 108 54490 in BR blue and grey, Class 104 50454 in BR blue and Class 122 55005 in BR blue and grey. Photo By Dewi Davies

Class 108 + 122

Our second visitor was Class 122 single car 55005 which was making its first visit away from the Battlefield Line since preservation in 1994. Recently restored and enjoying its first full season in its new livery of blue and grey this well restored unit is seen here on the tail of a three-car set, leaving Carrog Station. Photo By Andrew Macintosh.

Class 109

Our superbly-restored Wickham unit, now in its ninth season, again attracted the crowds and spent some of the time working in multiple with other units. In this shot it waits time at Carrog Station after a trip up the new extension to Bonwm. Photo By Mike Martin

Class 104

The 104 is seen again, this time leading the Class 127/108 hybrid unit in an unusual pairing of mechanical and hydraulic railcars. The train is leaving Platform Two at Llangollen, which is more than 10 coaches long. Photo By Paul Stigter

Auto Train

Supporting the event was a steam-worked "autotrain", in which a coach can be pushed or pulled by a steam engine and controlled from a driving cab at the front of the coach. The locomotive, Pannier Tank 6430, was making a final appearance before being withdrawn for its 10-yearly overhaul. Photo By Mike Martin

Class 127

This time working on its own the Class 127/108 set accelerates down the steep hill from Berwyn Station. The Class 127 is the only DMU in the Llangollen fleet which has Rolls Royce engines and hydraulic transmission; all the others have Leyland engines and mechanical gearboxes. Photo By Mike Martin

Class 108

Driver Rod Morgan retired from footplate duties on the Saturday evening of the gala. The first unit he drove 17 years ago was our blue and grey Class 108 and so it was fitting that the same unit should also be used for his last train, which is seen here approaching Llangollen Station. Photo By Mike Martin

9 Car

The nine-car is seen again slowing for the token exchange at Llangollen Goods Junction, with the Class 122 at the head. Photo By Rod Morgan.

Class 121

One of the locations used for the photographic charter was the River Dee Bridge at Pentrefelin. This is in an area which cannot be accessed other than by special arrangement as there are no public footpaths. In the evening light "bubble" 55032 is seen coming off the bridge and at the start of the climb to Berwyn and the tunnel. Photo By Michael Young

Class 121

Following our event mainline registered 121032 was returned to Tyseley depot for storage, ending a most popular visit. The unit pauses for pictures at the section signal at the Deeside end of Glyndyfrdwy Station. Photo By Michael Young

This video really captures all of the action of the 2013 gala. Video By Dewi Davies