Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Please Vote for our sculpture

Online voting has started for the sculptures on the Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape sculpture trail. The sculpture with the most public votes wins £100.

We'd love to win that £100 for Starcross Primary School. The children worked hard to make the mermaid's braids, and also manes and tails for the carousel horses.

Here's the link to vote for our beautiful mermaid who has 6 carousel horses galloping around her, and a poem called "The Plastic Carousel" displayed on the signboard. She's listed as

Starcross History Group

The Plastic Carousel

Your votes can also be cast when you visit The Beachcomber café on Teignmouth seafront, which is temporarily a pop-up art gallery run by the Teignmouth Arts Action Group

Carmen, with toddler Arlo,
stands by her
newly installed mermaid

The Starcross Mermaid
 on Teignmouth seafront

Our Mermaid's fabulous
braids; many made by the
 children of
Starcross Primary School
One of the 6 carousel horses
galloping around the mermaid
The Plastic Carousel

Monday, 26 July 2021

Adjustments to The Starcross Mermaid sculpture

 Strong winds, in our spot by the lighthouse on Teignmouth seafront, tangled up our mermaid's braids, and some of the carousel horses were a bit wonky. Our mermaid's tailfins were skew-whiff, and her tail needed a few more sparkly silver milkbottle seals (scales). All is fixed for now, but thunder is rumbling around. 

Wind-tangled Mermaid's Braids

Wind-twisted tailfin

Tailfins realigned
All the milkbottle seals used up

Black and yellow tape
plaited save a couple
left to blow in the wind

Wonky Carousel Horse fixed

Another Wonky Carousel Horse fixed

Monday, 19 July 2021

The Starcross Mermaid is on the Teignmouth Seafront


The Starcross Mermaid
 on Teignmouth Seafront

The Starcross Mermaid
on Teignmouth seafront

The Starcross Mermaid's
Fabulous Hair

The Starcross Mermaid
has 6 carousel horses

The information sign near
The Starcross Mermaid

The Plastic Carousel
poem on display near
The Starcross Mermaid
and her 6 carousel horses

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Workshops at Starcross Primary School


Carousel horse with his new mane and tail
in the playground at Starcross Primary School

Lorralorra Mermaid's Braids
in the Starcross Primary School

There's little downtime for schoolchildren at the end of this summer term. The Covid19 lockdowns, with home education, has meant that some children have done well, but others haven't. There's lots of catch-up to do, with no extra time to do it.

The Starcross History Society, and Starcross Primary School, believe that children need to be aware of history, particularly of of the place where they live. To understand about the past in Starcross gives the children identity. That's why the children have been involved with the Starcross History Society's entries on the Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape Sculpture Trail

This year's entry, "The Starcross Mermaid", combines 2 pieces of Starcross history, and the elements are pulled together with a poem about plastic pollution, titled The Plastic Carousel. The poem, written on 'slate',  will be displayed amongst the plastic carousel horses. You can read tales of The Starcross Mermaid HERE. When a fairground used to come to Starcross, there was a carousel with gallopers. 

This year, there has been no classroom time at all available to give our workshops for the children to make parts of the sculpture. Nevertheless, the school still found a way to accommodate us. We went into the playground during the lunch break. (We all took lateral flow tests every morning) The children have their lunch breaks within their bubbles, and are not allowed to mix with the other bubbles. A rope across the playground separated the bubbles, and we gave workshops either side. 

Of course, it wasn't lesson time so the children didn't have to take part. BUT THEY DID. We made a lorralorra plaits for The Starcross Mermaid, 3 manes and 3 tails for the carousel horses.

Well done Starcross Primary School

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Volunteers wanted at Powderham Castle

 Volunteers wanted at Powderham Castle.

Follow the link to see how you can help at the castle. Naomi Hunt, the Visitor Operations Manager, writes:

As we draw closer to the Summer Holidays, we are in search of volunteers to help out at the Castle. In particular, we are looking for people who are passionate about history and meeting new people to help as a Room Guides, but plenty of other opportunities are also available!


Saturday, 3 July 2021

More silver milk bottle seals please

 We need more of the silver plastic seals please, from plastic milk bottles. These will make The Starcross Mermaid's tail's scales. Many thanks to everyone who has already collected some... but our Mermaid's tail is quite big.

Silver seals from plastic milk bottles
left on the fence at Myrtle Cottage

The silver seals
from plastic milk bottles

Workshops start next week at the Starcross Primary School to make The Starcross Mermaid's braids; and manes and tails for the carousel horses.
One of 6 carousel horses

This year's entry on the Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape sculpture trail will feature a mermaid in the centre of a carousel of gallopers. The mermaid connection with Starcross is illustrated by 3 Fishy Tales on this link

The carousel connection is that there used to be a steam-driven carousel which visited Starcross every year. A more abstract connection is the theme of the never-ending plastics which leak into the environment via rubbish in our rivers and oceans; become microplastic;  are reabsorbed by plants; which are eaten by animals; which are eaten by humans. The Plastic Carousel is a poem about this by  Monica Lang

Monday, 14 June 2021

Progress on The Starcross Mermaid

Many thanks to Claire Johns for the bag of netting and shinystuff  for scales, the old babybath to chop up for the mermaid build, and...
 for the 6 wonderful pairs of Mermaids' Braids. The braids are pictured on one of the 6 carousel horses, which will gallop around The Starcross Mermaid on the Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape Sculpture Trail which starts this July.
Everyone is welcome to see the build of the sculpture, which is behind the gate at Myrtle Cottage. We still need materials. Please see the previous post for details.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Starcross Mermaid

The Starcross Mermaid only has one Mermaid Braid

The Starcross Mermaid's tail will be covered in silver scales
The build of The Starcross History Society's entry on this year's Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape Sculpture Trail is under way behind the gate of Myrtle Cottage. The recyled materials we still need. please, are:

  • Some more curved plastic to build her body. We have chopped up a broken garden chair for her arms and shoulders, but we need more organic-looking plastic ie curved, to build the rest of her body
  • Lots more netting to make more Mermaid's Braids: used garden netting, scaffolding netting, net bags from your shopping that contained oranges, Baby Belle cheeses, tomatoes etc.  We will use everything. The Starcross Mermaid now has just one braid. We will hold workshops at Starcross Primary School to make loads more.
  • Lots and lots of the white & silver plastic seals from plastic milk bottles, fruit drink cartons and some yoghurt-sized pots. These are to make the scales on her fishnet tail.
The silver and white plastic seals from plastic milk bottles

Please bring the materials to Myrtle Cottage. Contact  starcross.history@gmail.com if you're not sure if we could use your curved plastic, or if you need directions.


Monica Lang

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Swim race from Starcross Pier and other films

The swimming race from Starcross Pier. Starcross Hospital 

Hugh Payne, the Starcross chemist, presents the swimming trophies.

Footage from Starcross Hospital

Children wait patiently for the Cadbury's Easter Egg

More about the Starcross Hospital

 Ray Hill talks about The Royal Western Counties Hospital

Postponed ZOOM

The Voices of Starcross is postponed until Wednesday October 20th. 

Many apologies. Rehearsals have been problematic.  

The Starcross History Society has scheduled this docudrama to kick-start our programme for the academic year 2021/2022. 

Starcross Unearthed

 Here is the link to the stories of Starcross, with songs by Jim Causley.


Monday, 17 May 2021

Starcross Hospital. What the voices tell us. Installment 2


Setting the scene:




Starcross Hospital closed in 1986 after some 120 years as an institution through which hundreds of people passed – and many remained in until their death. 


Founded by public subscription to train backward children from pauper homes, it became an “Idiot Asylum” and a place where people with physical disabilities such as deafness or epilepsy rubbed shoulders with people who were judged morally defective. 


Instead of taking in children to improve their future chances in life in the outside world, it took children and adults to “protect” the outside world from them, and them from it. 


Opinions varied at the time of the closure as to the institution’s success, and whether it should ever have existed or ever have closed.  Care in the community had taken its place and faced the test of time. 


The question then being asked was: How will it compare to the care in the hospital?  How will it turn out and mature? 


The collection of recorded interviews - made at the time that Starcross Hospital started to become a memory - sought to breathe life into the relics of the past, so that the lessons learned should not be forgotten, and in tribute to the hard work and intentions of so many people who spent much of their lives within those walls. 


The words may remind us why those walls have been demolished. 

POSTPONED Next FREE ZOOM Volunteers please



Here's the link to the FREE ZOOM on Wednesday, June 16th. 

Jon Nichol would please like some volunteers to take parts in this ZOOM drama  Information from Reg Colley's remarkable books about Starcross will take us on a tour of life as it was when there were steam trains and craftsmen; and The Swan of the Exe was moored by Starcross Pier. Please email starcross.history@gmail.com if you would help.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

STARCROSS HOSPITAL what the voices tell us

STARCROSS HOSPITAL what the voices tell us

This is a link to the whole of the 160 page oral history project on the history of The Royal Western Counties Hospital in Starcross.

This will take a while to download and so the project will also be presented in installments on this weblog 

On your mobile phone: you can open in incognito tab, or use your Google account, or share on Facebook. Tap and hold the link to view the drop-down menu of all the options of how you can view this booklet.

If you are using a computer to here view the web version of The Starcross History Society's weblog: just click on the link to view the booklet. 

Did this revive memories for you? Was there something that stuck you as particularly poignant or interesting? Do you have something to add? Would you please leave  feedback by commenting below, or by contacting



Many thanks to Caroline Hill for allowing The Starcross History Society to publish this remarkable book.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Lustleigh Society - all welcome to attend talk by Dr Todd Gray

Devon Wool Trade

Dr Todd Gray will be giving a Zoom talk, entitled ‘Devon’s Greatest Export: Woollen Cloth’, for the Lustleigh Society on Tuesday 30th March 2021 at 7:30pm. 
Woollen cloth was Devon’s most significant export for hundreds of years. It was largely finished and then funnelled through Exeter until 1800 to markets principally in Spain, Portugal, and the Low Countries, Italy and France. The recent discovery of a cloth book of the 1760s has revealed the vibrancy and range of this cloth. This illustrated talk uses 2,475 samples to bring alive an industry which was once the heart of Devon’s economy. 
If you would like to join this talk you can log in using this link anytime after 7pm on the day: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85878992685 
You have the option whether to be visible (join with video) or invisible (join without video). It’s best to keep yourself on mute during the lecture. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end. 

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Please make Mermaids' Braids

The Starcross Mermaid is the Starcross History Society's entry on this year's Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape sculpture trail


Use net bags from supermarket vegetables etc. Incorporate tatty nylon scarves and funky shoe laces.TRAIL are mindful of microplastics on the seafront; so although sparkly is lovely, please do not use glitter or any material that will shed. Fruit bags photodegenerate slower than plastic bags, but they must be tightly secured to each other. Thankyou ❤️

Friday, 9 April 2021

The Starcross Mermaid on TRAIL

 This year's entry on the Teignmouth Recycled Art in the Landscape sculpture trail is The Starcross Mermaid

Monica found her head on the shores of the Exe Estuary today.

The Starcross Mermaid's head amongst the bladderwrack and rocks

Teignbridge District Council has kindly donated one of her magnificent breasts. It's an orange plastic buoy, with a broken fixing. This is just one of the many thousands of such buoys which come adrift in the oceans and add to the massive rafts of rubbish in the centre of the 5 gyres

Our mermaid needs one more, but if a matching buoy can't be found for her second breast, it might be a good thing... because this larger than life mermaid will promote Breast Cancer Awareness, with or without both of her breasts.

Here's a photo of the first throwdown of The Starcross Mermaid. 

Her body will be fashioned from trawlernet. Thankyou again Teignbridge. Her long fishtail will be covered in shiny silver scales (CDs) so she will need to sit on something fairly high; so that her fishtail can be displayed to maximum effect.

Her Mermaids' Braids  will be made from the plastic net bags that often encase shopbought vegetables. These bags are super-colourful, but they will need decorating with jewellery. 

So it's time to start saving all the net bags and jewellery you can PLEASE.

Each plait needs to be very secure, and 8 feet long please. Demo plaits will be displayed at Myrtle Cottage... 

If you would help with this project, please get in touch


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Our next FREE ZOOM


Everyone is welcome to our next FREE ZOOM. This is the link


Any problems, please email heirnet@gmail.com. Thankyou.

Jon Nichol will present The Voices of Starcross on Wednesday, 16th June, from 7.30pm until 9.00pm. This is about the value of recording people speaking about their experiences. You will hear some invaluable commentary from local voices.

We make no charge to attend, because we believe that local history should be free for everyone, but we ask for donation via Paypal  to cover our costs.  Please visit our Donate page.  


Starcross Hospital: What the Voices Tell Us. Installment 1.

Why can't I live in a house?



A case study about moving to Care in the Community, written by David King, was published by the Nuffield Trust in 1991. [1] 


It sought to describe how and why the institutions around Exeter, in Devon, were closed in the 1980s, and to inspire and enable other health areas to follow suit. 


It was written from the perspective of overseeing the push from hospital to community care, as David was at the helm of the Exeter Health Authority throughout this period, before moving to New Zealand where he would lead similar change. 


Before the first of the institutional hospitals in the Exeter area closed – the Royal Western Counties Hospital at Starcross – David set in train a project to create an oral archive. 


Now, the opportunity has come to publish extracts from the interviews alongside a commentary drawn from David’s words – from then (1988 and 1989), from 1991, and with fresh eyes from 2020. 


I hope this will be a useful companion to the 1991 publication but also a tribute to those who lived and worked at Starcross Hospital as well as a window on an important part of the social history of the village of Starcross. 

Caroline Hill