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Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Attraction of Dawlish

In this post, 22nd July 2012, I am using three photographs of jigsaw puzzles each one replicating the same location - the sea wall at Dawlish.

The Great Western main line hosts one of the most pictorial stretches of railway in Britain. Hugging a spectacular coastline of red sandstone rock between Teignmouth and Dawlish, the line has acted like a magnet to every railway artist of distinction, the sea wall at Dawlish especially so. The line and adjacent footpath are situated in close proximity to the sea with all three hardly separated during spells of inclement weather.

The line, originally from Exeter to Teignmouth,  was opened in 1846 by the South Devon Railway Company. Later in the same year the line was extended to Newton Abbott. Isambard Kingdom Brunel engineered the line to his broad gauge and intended it to function as an atmospheric railway. The latter lasted for one year only and was abandoned in 1848 in favour of steam locomotion. The South Devon Railway became part of the Great Western Railway in 1876 and was converted to standard gauge in 1892. The following three jigsaw puzzle pictures all show the line and sea wall at Dawlish but they are by different artists.


The first picture shows a King jigsaw of 500 pieces from original artwork by Malcolm Root. Titled Following the Train, the jigsaw features a GWR ‘King’ class 4-6-0 No. 6000 King George V hauling chocolate and cream liveried passenger coaches in the popular location. The famous bell on the locomotive is clearly shown. A family party on holiday in Devon, complete with a baby in a large, 1950’s style pram, follows the train for a short distance. This locomotive is preserved. I have used this example in a previous post but feel justified in repeating its use in this specific context.

A slightly different viewpoint has been used by another famous artist, Don Breckon. Picture number two shows a 240-piece wooden puzzle titled On the Sea Wall although its origin is unknown to me. GWR 'King’ class 4-6-0 No.6000, King George V is again the featured locomotive in Don’s artwork. The people on the footpath are different but from the same era.

Mike Jeffries also used the sea wall for a painting replicated as a 1000-piece puzzle currently on sale at ‘The Works’ chain of stationers. Titled A Trip to the Seaside, the jigsaw features the 4-6-0 ‘Star’ class locomotive No.4003 Lode Star  but with different  pedestrians on the footpath. The locomotive was withdrawn from BR service in 1951 and is part of the National Collection based at the National Railway Museum in York. Mike  painted the same scene on another occasion but with GWR 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No.4920 Dumbleton Hall at the head of the train; this latter painting has not been used for a jigsaw puzzle however, to the best of my knowledge.