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Dawlish History

20th Century History


Black Swans Introduced

In 1906 a New Zealander introduced the now famous black swans to the Brook. John Nash, a Dawlish-borne man emigrated during adulthood but paid frequent visits to the town.

The Popular Holiday Resort

With the growth of the railway, shortening of travel times and the introduction of paid holidays for the working class, the growth of holiday makers to Dawlish rose steeply. Day tripping replaced the seasonal holiday stay of the upper class and many visitors wanted to move to the region. Because of this more lower class housing was built and many of the villas were turned into hotels and guest houses. During this century the population rose from 3000 to 12000.

Great Western Railway

The building of the railway station in 1905 at Dawlish Warren contributed to the increase in visitors to the region, and by 1930 Dawlish was seen as a low budget holiday resort with the opening of holiday camps with chalets and caravans. The railway brought most of the visitors so during the summer season the carriages would have been packed with passengers.

Steam Train

Dawlish Emblem

In 1953, the year Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, Dawlish adopted the Latin phrase 'Pratum Juxta Ribos Aquarum' for its motto, which translates (word for word) to 'Meadowland by Running Waters'.
The heraldic emblem of the town incorporates the arms of Edward the Confessor (top left: a cross patonce between five martlets, blue in colour), those of Leofric (top right: a dark cross with a bishop's mitre at the centre), and of the see of Exeter (bottom: an erect sword in pale argent surmounted by two keys).

Dawlish Town Crest

Late 20th Century Dawlish

The preference for cheap holidays abroad starting in the 1970's inevitably reduced the number of visitors to the region. There are much fewer hotels and guest houses around today then there were at the beginning of the century as many have been converted to flats or residential homes. Dawlish is still dependent on the tourist industry, and the amusement arcades, holiday camps and many small shops would not survive without it.