Dawlish station was opened by the South Devon Railway (amalgamated into the Great Western in 1876 and in turn nationalised into British Railways in1948) on 30 May 1846 and initially had just one platform on the landward side with a loop line closer to the sea - a second platform was added in1858. The original wooden station and train shed was burnt down in 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 about forty years ago.
The station is adjacent to the beach, near the gardens at the centre of the town. It has two storeys as the railway runs above street level and a café occupies most of the street frontage. The main entrance is at road level on the side served by trains toExeter. This opens onto a booking office with an ornate ceiling. Access to the opposite platform is by way of a covered footbridge, the stairways of which are contained within the building.
Immediately to the south of the station is the low Colonnade Viaduct, which carries the railway above the small river that runs through the gardens, where you can see the famous black swans and the main footpath from the town to the beach. To the north of the station is Coastguards Footbridge, with Coastguards Cottage, now a café, on the hill above the line to the west, and Brunel's Boat House between the line and the beach to the east.