DAWLISH /ˈdɔːlɪʃ/ is a town and civil parish in
the south coast of
Devon in England, 12 miles (19 km) from the county
Exeter . It has a population of 12,819, decreasing to 11,312
at the 2011 census . During the 18th century, it grew from a small
fishing port to become a well-known seaside resort .
Dawlish has two
electoral wards (Central and North East, and the South West). Their
combined population at the 2011 census was 13,161.
* 1 Description
* 2 Toponymy
* 3 History
* 3.1 Brunel\'s railway
* 4 Literary connections
* 5 Transport
* 6 Local produce
* 7 Religion
* 8 Schools and education
* 9 Twinning
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Black swans in
Dawlish Water 2010
Dawlish is located at the outlet of a small river,
(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, although this
path is blocked at extreme high water.
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
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
Dawlish Water from the
Haldon Hills on the night of 10
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
Museum. View of
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. View from
Dawlish station to the south-west toward
the scenic tunnelled coastal section of line.
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
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
Tavistock , re-opening the
Teign Valley Line , or by reviving a 1930s GWR project to
Dawlish Avoiding Line .
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 School.
Dawlish Community College (formerly
Dawlish Comprehensive School and
Dawlish Secondary Modern) in Elm Grove Road is the main secondary
Oakwood Court College is a specialist residential college
based in Dawlish, with a satellite college in
Dawlish is twinned with
Carhaix-Plouguer in France.
* ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish
Teignbridge Retrieved 27 January 2010
* ^ "
Town population 2011". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
* ^ "
Dawlish Central & North East ward 2011". Retrieved 18 February
* ^ "
Dawlish South West ward". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
* ^ Black Swans and other waterfowl Archived 23 April 2015 at the
Wayback Machine .,
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
* ^ A B C Hoskins, W. G. (1972). A New Survey of England: Devon
(New ed.). London: Collins. pp. 386–7. ISBN 0-7153-5577-5 .
* ^ 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. ISBN
* ^ Hadfield, Charles (1967). Atmospheric Railways. David &
Charles. ISBN 0-7153-4107-3 .
* ^ "
Jane Austen ...
Dawlish and Sidmouth" (PDF).