Dawlish /ˈdɔːlɪʃ/ is an English seaside resort town and civil
Teignbridge on the south coast of Devon, 12 miles
(19 km) from the county town of Exeter. It had a population of
12,345, which decreased to 11,893 at the 2011 census. During the
18th century, it grew from a small fishing port into a well-known
seaside resort. Its nearest neighbour, Teignmouth, developed in a
similar way during the 19th century.
3.1 Brunel's railway
4 Literary connections
6 Local produce
8 Schools and education
10 See also
12 External links
Black swans in
Dawlish Water 2010
Dawlish is located at the outlet of a small river,
Dawlish Water (also
called The Brook), between Permian red sandstone cliffs, and is
fronted by a sandy beach with the South
Devon Railway sea wall and the
Riviera Line railway above. Behind this is a central public park, The
Lawn, through which
Dawlish Water flows.
Immediately to the south-west of
Dawlish is a headland, Lea Mount,
with Boat Cove at its foot and Coryton Cove, the furthest part of the
beach accessible by the seawall path, behind it. To the north-east,
via the beach or seawall, the coast can be followed some 2 km to
Langstone Rock and the resort of
Dawlish Warren beyond.
Dawlish is also known for its black swans (Cygnus atratus), introduced
from Western Australia, which live with other exotic waterfowl in a
small urban sanctuary on
Dawlish derives from a Welsh river name meaning black stream.
There was also a Roman translation of Dolfisc, meaning 'Dark river'
and 'The Devils Water'. It was first recorded in 1044 as Doflisc. By
1086 it was Dovles; in 1302, Dovelish; and by 1468 it had become the
more recognisable Dawlisshe.
Dawlish itself was settled, fishermen and salt makers came down
from the higher ground where they lived, to take advantage of the
natural resources available on the coast hereabouts. They built
salterns to produce salt and stored it in sheds nearby. The
unpredictable nature of the stream,
Dawlish Water, during floods is
likely to have led to nearby
Teignmouth being the preferred site for
salt-making, and the practice stopped at
Dawlish during the
Anglo-Saxon period (AD 400–1000).
The earliest settlement at
Dawlish grew up almost a mile away from the
coast, around the area where the parish church is today. There is
evidence of early settlements at Aller Farm, Smallacombe, Lidwell and
at Higher and Lower Southwood, where the ground would have been
fertile and not subject to flooding.
The land that includes present-day
Dawlish was granted by Edward the
Confessor to Leofric, later the first Bishop of Exeter, in 1044. After
the Norman Conquest, Leofric gave the land to the Diocese of Exeter,
which held it until it was sold, in 1802.
Little of note happened at
Dawlish until the end of the 18th
century, when seaside locations on the south coast started to
become popular with the wealthy, mainly caused by George III making
Weymouth in Dorset his summer holiday residence from 1789. In May
1795, the antiquarian and topographer
John Swete spent some time in
Dawlish and reported that although not long ago it had been no more
than a fishing village, and the best lodging house would not cost more
than half a guinea per week, it was now so fashionable that "in the
height of the season, not a house of the least consequence is to be
hired for less than two guineas a week, and many of them rise to so
high a sum as four or five."
In the first decade of the 19th century the land between the original
settlement and the sea was "landscaped"; the stream was straightened,
small waterfalls were built into it, and it was flanked by a broad
lawn and rows of new houses: The Strand on the north side and
Brunswick Place on the south. The entire layout survives remarkably
unchanged today, despite severe damage caused by a torrent of
water coming down
Dawlish Water from the
Haldon Hills on the night of
10 November 1810.
Also worth noting are Manor House and Brook House (both about 1800)
and some of the cottages in Old Town Street surviving from the old
village. Dawlish's transformation from a fishing settlement to a
watering hole for Victorian celebrities is documented at the Dawlish
Dawlish beach May 1881.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed a railway, which operated on
a pneumatic principle, using a 15-inch iron tube. One of the
pumping stations was in this town. The line ran right along the
seafront, but Brunel ensured that the line was carried across the
mouth of the stream on a small granite viaduct, leaving access to the
The atmospheric railway opened on 30 May 1846 and ran between Exeter
St Davids and Newton Abbot. The first passenger train ran in September
1847, but the project was besieged with problems mainly with the
leather sealing valve, which after 12 months of use needed replacing
at a cost of £25,000. South
Devon Railway directors abandoned the
project in favour of conventional trains: the last atmospheric train
ran in September 1848.
Sidmouth in 1801,
Jane Austen spent a long holiday at
Dawlish in 1802, later complaining about its "particularly pitiful and
wretched library". She mentioned the town several times in her
1811 novel Sense and Sensibility. In Charles Dickens' Nicholas
Nickleby (1838–39) the protagonist inherits a small farm near
Dawlish. The novelist and poet
Margaret Holford died in
Dawlish on 11
September 1852, aged 84. The Romantic poet
John Keats wrote a poem
Dawlish station to the south-west toward the scenic
tunnelled coastal section of line.
Dawlish railway station
Dawlish railway station is situated in the town centre next to the
beach. It is served by trains to most stations in Devon, and to London
and further afield. The line is noted as one of the most memorable
stretches of track in Britain for its natural beauty, although at a
very high cost to
Network Rail as it is one of the most expensive
lines to maintain due to the continual battle with sea
erosion. One storm in 1974 washed away much of the down
platform in the station, and during the UK storms of
January–February 2014 waves brought down the sea wall and washed
away a section of the railway line leaving the permanent way suspended
in mid air. The 2014 storm raised questions about the
vulnerability of the South
Devon Railway sea wall to storm damage and
proposals were put forward to re-route Plymouth-bound rail services
further inland, either by re-opening the disused railway line via
Okehampton and Tavistock, re-opening the former Teign Valley Line, or
by reviving a 1930s GWR project to construct the
A379 road runs through the town parallel to the railway line.
During the early and middle part of the 20th century,
Devon Violets perfume, and hundreds of varieties were grown
in market gardens surrounding the town. Violet escapees can be found
growing wild across the area. Lately the town has become known for
growing freesias, daffodils and strawberries. The sheltered location
in Lyme Bay means the climate is mild and frost/snow are rare,
ensuring a long growing season. Television presenter Phillip Schofield
once remarked that Dawlish's growing season was the 16th best in
There are several places of worship in Dawlish:
Dawlish Baptist Church
Dawlish Christian Fellowship
Dawlish Methodist Church
Dawlish Strand Church (United Reformed)
St Agatha's Church (Roman Catholic)
St Gregory's Church (Anglican)
Schools and education
The primary schools in
Dawlish are Gatehouse Primary School,
Westcliff Primary School, Ratcliff School, and Oaklands Park
Dawlish Community College (formerly
Dawlish Secondary Modern) in Elm Grove Road is the main
Oakwood Court College
Oakwood Court College is a specialist residential
college based in Dawlish, with a satellite college in Torpoint.
Dawlish is twinned with
Carhaix-Plouguer in France.
Dawlish, South Australia
^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish
Teignbridge Retrieved 27 January 2010
^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
^ Black Swans and other waterfowl Archived 23 April 2015 at the
Dawlish Town Council website
^ Watts, Victor (2010). The Cambridge Dictionary of English
Place-names (1st paperback ed.). Cambridge University Press.
p. 180. ISBN 978-0-521-16855-7.
^ a b "
Dawlish History Introduction". dawlish.com. Retrieved 17 June
^ a b c Hoskins, W. G. (1972). A New Survey of England:
ed.). London: Collins. pp. 386–7.
^ a b c Worth, R. N. (1895). A History of Devonshire. London: Elliot
Stock. pp. 314–5.
^ Peter Hunt, ed. (1984). Devon's Age of Elegance.
p. 128. ISBN 0-86114-750-2.
^ Cherry, Bridget; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1989). The Buildings of England
– Devon. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 329–333.
^ Hadfield, Charles (1967). Atmospheric Railways. David & Charles.
Jane Austen ...
Dawlish and Sidmouth" (PDF).
Retrieved 17 June 2012.
Jane Austen Gazetteer - Sense and Sensibility - Dawlish,
Devonshire". The Republic of Pemberley. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
^ "Railway cliff scheme 'on target'". BBC News. 13 October 2004.
Retrieved 31 March 2008.
^ "Weather could wash away rail link". BBC News. 27 October 2005.
Retrieved 31 March 2008.
^ Chris Ledgard (27 May 2006). "Brunel railway faces up to the sea".
BBC News. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
^ Kay, Peter (1991).
Exeter - Newton Abbot: A Railway History.
Platform 5. p. 108. ISBN 1-872524-42-7.
Dawlish railway repairs halted over safety fears". BBC News. 13
October 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
^ "UK storms wash away railway line and leave thousands without
power". BBC News. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
^ Turner, Lauren (7 February 2014). "How do you fix the Dawlish
problem?". BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
^ Site Retrieved 5 June 2017.
^ Site Retrieved 5 June 2017.
^ Site Retrieved 5 June 2017.
Dawlish site Retrieved 5 June 2017.
^ A Church Near You Retrieved 5 June 2017.
^ School site Retrieved 15 January 2017.
^ Retrieved 15 January 2017.
^ "British Towns Twinned with French Towns". Complete France. Archived
from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dawlish.
Dawlish at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Dawlish in the Domesday Book
Ceremonial county of Devon
Boroughs or districts
Ottery St Mary
See also: List of civil parishes in Devon
Devon County Council
Towns by population
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
South West Coast Path