Dawlish railway station is on the Exeter to Plymouth line and serves the town of Dawlish in Devon, England. The station is built on the sea wall, as is the railway line, and has often suffered from storm damage due its proximity to the sea. South of the station the line passes through five tunnels through the cliffs as it follows the coast. On 5 February 2014 the station and adjacent sea wall were damaged in a storm. This prevented the use of the railway for several weeks. The line reopened on 4 April 2014.
The station was opened by the South Devon Railway on 30 May 1846. The strange wall with bricked up windows that can be seen in the car park is the remains of the engine house that used to power the trains while they were worked by atmospheric power from 13 September 1847 until 9 September 1848. At this time it was one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge railways.
The station initially had just one platform on the landward side with a loop line closer to the sea, but a second platform was added to serve the loop line on 1 May 1858. The original wooden station and train shed was burnt down on 14 August 1873 and the present buildings opened to replace it on 12 April 1875. The platforms have been extended several times to cope with the crowds and now reach all the way to Coastguards’ Footbridge, although the Exeter platform was shortened again in 1970.
The South Devon Railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876, and on 20 May 1892 the line was converted to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge. The Great Western in turn was nationalised into British Railways on 1 January 1948.
The decorative iron and glass canopies above the platforms were replaced by concrete beams and glass panels in 1961 but the glass has since been replaced by Perspex. Goods traffic was withdrawn on 17 May 1965.