Dawlish is a pleasant seaside resort town located on the south coast of Devon. It features an attractive sand and shingle beach flanked by a sea wall that stretches the length of the bay. The town’s Grade II listed railway station sits atop the sea wall, as does the railway line, offering pleasant views out to sea; however, its location makes it vulnerable to the extremities of the weather.
In 2014, Dawlish’s coastal railway line suffered severe damage following heavy winter storms. In response, Network Rail introduced several new measures to improve the long-term resilience of the railway connection. This is particularly important as the line is the only rail link from Devon and Cornwall to the rest of Britain.
A key feature of the improvement works was the construction of a new sea wall, which is 415m in length. Higher than the previous sea wall, it also incorporates a new high-level promenade at the same elevation as the station platforms. In addition, users of the promenade are now protected from the waves by a curved parapet wall that stands 1.1m tall.
At various points along the walkway, raised areas have been created with benches, allowing visitors to enjoy the sea view. Pedestrian access to the beach has been added, while a footbridge connects the two sections of sea wall. In addition, a new accessible station footbridge has been introduced to the site, complete with lifts.
The contractor for the project was Bam Nuttall, while the innovative plans were developed in partnership with the Bristol office of renowned engineering experts Arup.
To fulfil a crucial lighting element of the project, Arup appointed leading external lighting manufacturer DW Windsor. A 330m stretch of the elevated sea-front promenade required illumination to improve visibility for walkers. DW Windsor’s brief was to create a lighting solution that would withstand the harsh environment while also becoming a feature of the improved walkway.
With their extensive knowledge of the rail sector and a long history of delivering
The brief called for a discreet lighting solution, mounted at a low height to avoid any risk of glare for train drivers. DW Windsor’s Special Projects team developed a bespoke solution using a modified version of their surface-mounted linear lighting system, Garda Anti-Climb. In total, 110 custom LED lighting modules were installed along the walkway, set at an angle to wash across the pathway rather than illuminate the space above it.
The fact that Garda Anti-Climb is IP66 rated and has high resistance to water ingress – which was vital given the extreme proximity to the sea – added to its credentials. The luminaire’s patented sloped profile also helps to drain water, which is a considerable benefit as it will undoubtedly get wet on a frequent basis.
Ewen Morrison, Network Rail Senior Programme Manager for the Dawlish sea wall project, said: “It’s pleasing to see the remaining finishing touches to the first section of new sea wall were recently completed.
“The lighting will undoubtedly brighten up the promenade and enable people to safely use the sea wall in the evening, particularly during the darker winter nights.
“This new, bigger sea wall will play an important role in protecting not only the railway but the town of Dawlish from rising sea levels and extreme weather for generations to come.”
Des Wilkinson, Rail Business Development Manager from DW Windsor, added: “Projects in coastal locations require a considered approach to ensure the lighting can withstand the harsh environment. With a wide range of high-quality solutions available, DW Windsor was able to take one of our most popular products and adapt it to fulfil all of the needs of the Dawlish railway station project.
“It is rewarding to know that our luminaires are helping to improve the safety of walkers in the area as well as creating a visually impressive environment for people to enjoy.”
Client – Network Rail – Dawlish
Lighting Design & M&E Contractor – Arup Bristol
Contractor – BAM Nuttall
Local Council – Teignbridge District Council
Photographer – Andrew Hatfield