Having lived and worked in Dawlish for more than 30 years as an estate agent, selling and letting residential and commercial property, I have probably been inside more properties in the town than any other person in history! I have also immersed myself in the life of Dawlish and feel a great affinity with the town and its residents, as well as the thousands of visitors who come to the town each year. Growing up in Exeter as I did in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the beaches at Dawlish, Smugglers Cove at Holcombe and Dawlish Warren were favoured destinations for a day trip, either by car or, as a special treat, on the train. With buckets and spades, a shrimping net, a tartan rug, swimming costumes, towels and a hearty picnic lunch, an exciting day was guaranteed…. and the sun always seemed to shine.
Opening an estate agency in 1982 was quite a gamble. Force and Sons was founded in 1790 by my great-great-great-great grandfather, John Force, and it was a big step to open up a branch office. Viewed by the established agents as a city boy and a bit of an outsider, it took a while to be accepted, and also to understand what a tight-knit little community Dawlish was at the time.
I soon came to realise what a special place Dawlish is. With a long and, on the surface, rather mundane history stretching back over 1000 years, its past began to fascinate me. The more I read, and the closer I looked at the streets and houses, the more interesting it became. Its many facets, like the pieces of a jigsaw, began to fit together and I began to understand that its history is rich in many ways.
The jigsaw will never be complete – history continues to be made each year – but I hope you will enjoy reading about Dawlish as much as I have enjoyed writing about it. By the time you have finished, I hope you will look at the town and its surroundings with renewed interest, and also appreciate its many quirks and foibles. I also hope you will realise what a special place Dawlish is to live in and also to visit. It is unique and we must never take it for granted. I love travelling and visiting other places, but I always look forward to coming home again!