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Images of Dawlish

The images below were presented and discussed at the History Group meeting on February 7th 2017.  This is the second half of the presentation; the first half were displayed previously.

If you have any further information (or corrections) on any of these pictures please let me know.

David Gearing


1.  Model of proposed traffic flow.

This is a press photograph of a group of people posed around what looks like a model of the town centre to demonstrate a revised traffic flow or road layout.  The date is unknown.  There is a note on the back of the picture to say that Don White is the man on the right.  The person pointing to the model has been identified as the headmaster of the local secondary school, and presumably the Mayoress is on the left, wearing her chain of office. 

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2.  Seven women in a row.

When I first encountered this picture I thought it could be participants in a wedding or engagement party or similar, but the woman on the left is holding a card with number 3 on it, which implies some kind of competition.  Then the young woman in the centre holding the flowers was presumably the winner – she looks about 16 and surely that has to be her sister on the left holding the card.  Initially the date was unknown, but the woman third from the right has a ‘marcel wave’, where the hair was curled around hot curling tongs; this style was popular in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Later I found a note in the copy we have of the Chapman photo album – he identifies the picture as showing the entrants for Dawlish Queen of Carnival in 1933.

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3. Swimmers at the Bathing Pavilion. 

This posed group of swimmers and others at the Bathing Pavilion on Dawlish beach has been dated to around 1932.  The men are all wearing full length costumes.   On male beachwear Wikipedia says ‘By the 1930s men began to go without shirts for swimming, and barechestedness in male swimwear became the norm by the end of the 1940s, including in competitive swimming events.

Of course having men and women together in bathing wear would have been frowned upon only 20 years earlier, and it was not until after WW1 that the Bathing Pavilion was available for use by both sexes.

The non-swimmers present were presumably involved with maintenance of the building or the swimmers in some way, including the man from the U.D.C.

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4.  Tennis Courts on the Lawn.

It appears that these tennis courts occupied about three quarters of the area of the Lawn below the bandstand.  One disadvantage was nearness to the brook and initially there was no fence so boys were hired to retrieve those that went into the water.  Later a high wire fence was installed.

 For a time there was also a hard tennis court in what is now the car park area at the top of the Strand.

 Many local people disapproved of having such a large area of the Lawn set aside for relatively few players.  When grass and hard courts were built as part of the recreational area in the new Marina housing estate, most players preferred these new facilities to those at the Lawn and after several years of disuse the courts were abandoned and the fence removed.

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5.  ‘Harem Scene’: A Carnival tableau.

This splendid group won first prize for a Tableau in the 1921 Dawlish Carnival. 

They appear to be posed indoors, but it isn’t clear whether the patterned curtains behind them were part of the display or whether they have just been chosen to frame the exotic gentleman in the centre, depicting the ruler of the harem.  For the Carnival procession they would presumably have been arranged on a mobile float, which at this time would have probably been a horse-drawn cart or wagon.

Since this picture was shown at the February meeting, it has been featured in my new ‘History of Having Fun in Dawlish’ booklet, which also includes notes on the early history of the Carnival, which in 1921 was held in November, with the procession being lit by blazing torches.

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6.  The Dawlish Water Push Ball team of 1906.

Push Ball invented in America 1891, came to Britain in 1902.  On dry land played by teams of eight who worked closely together to try to propel the ball into the goal or over the touchline, and to prevent their opponents from so doing by tackling or blocking members of the other team in possession of the ball.  As you can see, the ball itself was enormous and also very expensive to make, and that may have been why the sport wasn’t more widely adopted and presumably was superseded by water polo.

It was also played by teams of swimmers, this is the Dawlish Swimming Club’s team.  They would have played in a pool laid out in the sea, next to the breakwater.  This watery version would have required even more strength and stamina than the land-based game – Dawlish sportsmen of the time were tough. 

(A photo of a Push Ball game taking place on the Lawn in the same year is included in the ‘Having Fun in Dawlish’ booklet.)

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7. Group at Lea Mount, with Ken Dodd. 

When this was shown at the meeting the obvious questions were When was this?  and Why was he here?

It’s noticeable that Ken Dodd and the man on his left are looking one way, everyone else the other, so perhaps several photographers were there.  Perhaps it was a way of promoting Ken Dodd’s show, which may have been playing in Torquay.

Thanks to notes in Bernard Chapman’s album, we know that the date is April 1960, and that the glamorous blonde woman was big band singer Rosemary Squires, who was regularly on national radio and TV at the time.

At the meeting Maurice Criddle said that other people there were members of the Henderson family, so perhaps they had invited Ken Dodd to stay with them?

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