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In 2003, after retiring, my parents made a monumental decision. They left the Midlands for a new life by the sea, with Dawlish emerging as their chosen new home. They sought the quieter life with the waves and the comfort of the nearby railway. My Dad’s life had always revolved around the railways. One of my earliest and most cherished memories is going to work with him to a signal box, possibly in Basingstoke, and watching as he pulled the signal levers, guiding trains along their rails.

In 2001, Dad had found a new calling as a tour guide for Great Rail Journeys. He revelled in this role, sharing his passion for railways with eager travellers. One of my Dad’s goals was to buy the derelict signal box at Dawlish railway station so he could sit in there and enjoy a pint and watch the trains. This would have been his ultimate retirement goal, but fate dealt a cruel hand, and in 2008, illness forced him to abandon the job he loved and his Dawlish signal box goal.

Dawlish Signal Box – 3 February 1979 when still in use. Photo by Colin J Marston courtesy of Dawlish Trains.

Even in Dawlish, Dad’s spirit of service continued. He became a Group Scout Leader for the Dawlish Scouts, nurturing young minds and sharing his boundless enthusiasm for adventure. Yet, as the leaves turned golden in the autumn of 2009, a shadow loomed. My Uncle Russell told me that this Christmas would likely be his last. The news hit me hard, compelling me to leave Nuneaton and move to Dawlish to support my Mum in caring for him.

Edgar Kenneth Dan Salter

During those difficult days, I sought solace along the Dawlish sea wall. The raw power of the waves crashing against it mirrored the rawness in my heart. Each thunderous thud sent shivers down my spine, a reminder of nature’s awe-inspiring might. I longed to capture even a fraction of this profound experience, believing others would equally enjoy its might.

In early 2010, my Dad passed away, leaving an irreplaceable void. My daily visits to the sea wall continued, now a poignant ritual of remembrance and reflection. The idea of sharing this experience with the world became a quiet obsession.

A few years later, work commitments led me to Exeter, tearing me away from my beloved sea wall walks. But destiny intervened when Celeste’s family moved into a house on the seafront. They agreed to let me place a camera in their garden and I embarked on a meticulous quest to find the perfect camera, eagerly awaiting the broadband activation set for February 3rd. However, delays pushed the installation into March, just as the Great Storm of 2014 hit. Though I missed capturing the storm’s fury due to the delayed broadband activation date, I still had a camera, but we didn’t have a sea wall.

On March 4, 2014, our camera went live. Over 500 viewers joined us as we turned on the camera for the first time, sharing in the beauty of South Devon. It felt like a tribute to my Dad, whose ashes were scattered just 50 meters from where San Remo Cam stood long before its existence. Coast Cams, originally Dawlish Beach Cams, seemed destined to be a testament to the enduring bond between my Dad, the sea, and the railway.

He never got to sit in his beloved signal box, but I believe every camera along that stretch of railway line is a signal box for everyone to sit in from the comfort of their home.

Beach Cams Man
Founder of Coast Cams – Your window to the coast.