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Images of Dawlish

These images was presented and discussed at the History Group meeting on February 5th 2019. The first five pictures (with an accompanying map) were shown here earlier, here are the remainder. If you have any further information (or corrections) on any of these pictures please let me know. .

                                                                                                                                                 David Gearing


Backstage at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The designs on the womens’ skirts in the foreground together with the dark skin make-up on one of the men led me to think that this had an African setting. But in fact cast members are preparing for one of three one act plays being performed in April 1960, this one being called ‘Red Velvet Goat’, a Mexican folk-play based on a 1937 novella by Josephinna Niggli, which had also been a Broadway play in 1939. 

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This Chapman studio portrait of girl with buttoned boots and ribbon sash is dated 11th April 1891. In the notes on this picture in Bernard Chapman’s he says that buttoned boots like this were ‘designed to keep legs a good shape’.
She is wearing a sash made from moire fabric, a textile with a wavy (watered) appearance produced mainly from silk, but also wool, cotton and rayon. The watered appearance is usually created by the finishing technique called calendering. In calendering, the fabric is folded lengthwise in half with the face side inward, and with the two selvedges running together side by side. To produce moire, ribbed rollers are used, and the ribs produce the watermark effect. The rollers polish the surface and make the fabric smoother and more lustrous. High temperatures and pressure are also used in its manufacture and the fabric is often damped before being run through the rollers. The end result is a peculiar lustre resulting from the divergent reflection of the light rays on the material, created by compressing and flattening the warp and filling threads in places, thereby forming a surface which reflects light differently.

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This Chapman picture, which may originally have been a postcard, is a bit of a puzzle. It is titled Marina Estate, but the housing development which was originally given that name is actually off to the left of the photo, which is of Exeter Road with the shops and garage on the other side of the road close to the junction with Warren Road. It is also difficult to pin down the date, but I’d guess sometime in the 1950s. By zooming in on the full size image it’s possible to see that the garage sells Cleveland petrol, a brand that disappeared in 1973. The pumps can just be glimpsed behind the building on the left, on the roof of which ‘Petrol & Teas has been painted. The function of the white caravan isn’t clear – perhaps it served as the office for the petrol station.


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This high quality aerial picture of the town centre and beach is probably from the second half of the 1930s. The basic layout hasn’t changed but it’s interesting to see what’s obviously different from today. The Ladies Bathing Pavilion is the prominent building on the beach – it was demolished in 1940. Much of the Lawn is occupied by tennis courts. There are eight or ten shops and a garage in Piermont Place and the roads around Tuck’s Plot are all two-way. And in the top right of the picture there are few buildings to the north of Longlands or west of Stockton Hill.


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This is one of the series of watercolour paintings by W.Dawson of Exeter commissioned by the South Devon Railway in 1848 showing the route of the railway soon after it had been built. In order to see the detail more clearly it is shown below in two halves.

The first image below is of the northern half showing the beach with bathing machines, the station and engine house for the atmospheric propulsion system that was abandoned at the end of 1848, Mr Powell’s villa (Sea Lawn House) right next to the track. Seagrove House (later the site of Lanherne) can also be seen on the slope above the station.

The second image is of the northern half which includes Great Cliff and other houses on Marine Parade, the Public Baths, houses at a higher level on Teignmouth Road, and the entrance to the Kennaway Tunnel among the cliffs.

The third image is a sketch map of the southern end showing Sea Lawn House, the Coastguard Preventive Station, the Engine House, Seagrove, the Station, the Assembly Rooms and other properties either side of the canalised Brook, houses along Marine Parade, and Barton Lane joining Teignmouth Road

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