The ups and downs of Marine Parade and Dawlish Station
Railway convention has it that all trains starting from London go in the “down” direction.
This seems logical for trains going to the south or south west but for those living in the north when they think of going down to London they are on the “up” line!
The up line here in Dawlish arrives onto the sea wall from out of Kennaway Tunnel which is 205 yds long and is one of 5 tunnels in quick succession in the Teignmouth direction.
It was named after Mark Kennaway, then landowner of Lea Mount, the hill it tunnels through.
Steam trains make a fine sight as they burst out of the tunnel and pass very close to the footpath along Marine Parade.
This first picture was taken in August 2009 and shows GWR 6024 King Edward l with the return leg of the Torbay Express
The King is currently under major overhaul on the West somerset Railway and is unlikely to be seen out on the main line for at least another 18 months.
Marine Parade provides a good viewpoint from both sides of the line.
There was great excitement when Colas Rail invested in a fleet of Class 70 heavy freight diesel loco’s from America.
Despite it being early one misty morning in May 2014 I captured one of the first tasks they were used for and pictured here is 70804 leading an engineering train.
At the rear end of the set of Autoballasters was 70807. The train is heading home to its base at Westbury in Wiltshire which is in a large stone quarrying area.
Autoballasters are invariably in a set of 5, one of which has a generator to power the exit slides for all 5 wagons to discharge the ballast.
For those interested I understand that the Colas 70803 which was damaged in an accident recently near Ivybridge will be soon going back by road transport from Tavistock Jnc yard to Eastleigh for repair.
The sea wall rail lines were previously protected by sheets of iron between the rails to help keep the ballast in place when deluged by the fairly frequent storms which hit this part of the line.
Unfortunately this wasn’t always enough! The picture below was taken after “The Great Storm” of February 2014 when the wall the other side of the station was washed away.
These plates have now been dispensed with as the latest treatment is to glue the ballast together, and up to now this has proved very successful.
The location you will often see in railway photographs is taken from above Kennaway tunnel from the cliff path that runs over Lea Mount.
It provides a grandstand view of the line all the way from the Langstone (Red) Rock at Dawlish Warren to the tunnel entrance.
My picture was taken on a rather dull wet day in September 2014, which must have been a disappointment for the punters on board.
However they were no doubt being well looked after on board the down Torbay Express which runs from Bristol to Paignton on several Sundays in the summer.
On this occasion it was being hauled by Sir Nigel Gresley’s streamline A4 number 4464 “Bittern” in it’s LNER guise complete with valencies over the driving wheels.
This was a class mate of “Mallard” the engine that still holds the world’s steam record for speed attaining 126 mph in 1938.
You never know what you might see on the Dawlish sea wall but there certainly was a surprise during the Air show in August 2011.
Two young girls fell off the sea wall onto the beach and were eventually taken away to Exeter hospital by the Air Sea Rescue helicopter.
Fortunately they weren’t seriously hurt but will have a story to tell for life!
A rare event occurred in October 2012 when the Grade 2 listed station footbridge was replaced.
The 1937 steel construction footbridge had been formed from the serviceable remains of a footbridge on a disused station on the Piccadilly Line in London.
It was deemed un-repairable and following success with a similar one that had been installed at St. Austell in Cornwall in 2007, it was replaced with a lightweight (5 ton approx as opposed to the 15 tons it replaced) using fibre reinforced polymer span.
The footbridge was required to look like the one it was replacing even down to false rivet heads that add to the aesthetic approach and has been the first of its type to be given a new Grade 2 listing.
Here’s a close up of the rivet detail.
The new construction should give a much longer life span with far lower maintenance than the original where the close proximity to the sea played havoc with erosion from the salt spray.
Between removing the old bridge and the new one being installed passengers wishing to travel on the down line westwards were directed out of the station,
under the viaduct and along to some temporary steps to get to platform 1 which wasn’t very popular when it rained.
The station certainly had a different open plan look about it when the bridge was missing.
Easterly gale force winds and high tide always cause a problem when the brook that runs through the town is swollen by heavy rain falling on the Haldon hills
at the river’s source which on occasion floods the nearby public gardens and houses .
More than one of the famous Dawlish black swans have in the past been washed away to sea but these two look ok exploring pastures new!
You can see here how much the brook has changes from a lazy stream to a raging torrent.
There used to be an unusual signal box on Platform 2. Because the platform was quite narrow originally and had a goods yard behind, the base of the box was
narrower than the top operating lever area. It became redundant when all signaling was taken over by the Exeter Panel Box in 1986 and after a long battle to keep the box it was finally demolished in July 2013. It is seen here braving the elements in 2008.
There is just a glimpse of the box in this picture below when Tornado was in charge of the Torbay Express in 2011.
At this time Tornado had been re-liveried from its original British Railways apple green and was in it’s BR express green, often known as Brunswick green and sporting the
early “cycling lion” emblem on the tender from the early to mid 1950’s period, though Tornado was just a baby of 3 years old itself.
A better view of the signal box is on the video which follows.
Here is a video taken at the time of the picture of Tornado giving it a bit of welly through the station after serenading it’s arrival with constant whistles along Marine Parade.
After the sea wall was repaired and the railway reopened on 4th April 2014 there were a couple of familiar faces to be seen around the station.
You may recognise this fellow who virtually promised us perpetual happiness with assurance the line would be safe in the future.
And then there was this one who was probably turning in his grave when he saw the repairs done in concrete rather than matching his stonework!
Since the reopening of the line after the storm, when the station was given a thorough make over we have seen the addition of attractive raised flower troughs
which are looked after by the Friends of Dawlish station. A nice touch.
Hope you have enjoyed this presentation. If you don’t live close by do consider coming here and seeing it all for yourself.
I’m sure you won’t be disappointed especially now steam trains throughout the summer are back in action.