Dawlish is a busy seaside town; the historic railway line through the town runs incredibly close to shore line and is renowned both for its stunning views and the major damage caused by the great storm of 2014.
There are so many fascinating stories to be discovered when walking around Dawlish. The spectacular cliffs contain desert sand as they were formed when the area was where the Sahara is now! Settlement of the area dates back thousands of years, and an exciting Bronze Age hoard was found recently in the town. Until the late 18thcentury Dawlish was a quiet fishing village, then tourists began to arrive for the healthy bathing and sea air, and the village’s rapid transformation into a fashionable seaside resort began. The elegant houses that were built provide evidence of the new prosperity.
The story of the coming of the railway to Dawlish features Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his ground-breaking ‘atmospheric’ railway – transforming the local landscape and economy. Today, walking along The Lawn, enjoying the sight of the iconic black swans swimming on the peaceful Dawlish Water, it is difficult to imagine this area as a wild marshland with a turbulent stream prone to flooding. This re-landscaping in the early 1800s is just one of the many stories of the town that Imagemakers interpreted through the Dawlish Heritage Trail.
The trail, which was developed in collaboration with Teignbridge District Council and local stakeholders, encourages locals and visitors to get out and about and explore the town and learn about its heritage. It features 15 interactive interpretive ‘hubs’ that can be experienced as a sequential trail or as standalone points from which to find out about Dawlish’s past and present. A trail map leaflet can be used to aid navigation and learning.
The hubs feature striking graphics and a colour palette inspired by the iconic red cliffs. The scheme is fully accessible: visitors can scan QR codes to access monologues by historic characters (some voiced by local people), such as an Iron Age girl and a Victorian fisherman and those with impaired vision can listen to a reading of each panel. Additional interactive features include tactile rubbing plaques and a wind-up audio point at the Tourist Information Centre featuring the voice of Brunel.
The trail is completed by an object display and ‘Dawlish today’ interactive audio point at the Strand Community Centre in the heart of the town.