Dawlish Railway – Then & Now
By Paul Homewood
h/t QV & John Hultquist
One of the iconic images of the recent severe weather in the South West has been the collapsed railway track at Dawlish, Devon.
Apparently though, this is nothing new. The Illustrated London News archives report exactly the same set of events in 1855, just a couple of miles south between Dawlish and Teignmouth.
According to their report , Easterly gales during the first fortnight of February in 1855, had washed away the beach near Teignmouth, exposing the marl on which the railway and sea-wall were built. Heavy seas scoured the marl and despite remedial work, 30 yards of wall collapsed on the 16th. Severe frosts and turbulent seas prevented reconstruction, and by the time work could begin, 50 yards of the embankment had been washed away.
Traffic was resumed by running trains to the edge of the breach and passengers walking round. A wooden viaduct built across the gap was completed in early March. Further strengthening was carried out during the summer under the personal supervision of Brunel.