Please click the photo to donate to St Paul's Church Bells

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Farmer Nichol. 1930 - 1943 - an enquiry resolved

First they tried the Tourist Information Centre in Dawlish

The Tourist Information Centre referred them to Starcross Parish Council

Starcross Parish Council referred them to Starcross History

Starcross History posted their enquiry on Starcross News on Facebook

and the rest, as they say, is history

"We are trying to trace a farm in or near Starcross which we used to visit annually very many years ago.  We don't know the name of the farm, but the owner/tenant farmer was NICHOL(L)S.   Period:  1930 - 1943.
Any information you can give will be gratefully received."

The enquirer then said that the farm was definitely towards Dawlish, rather than towards Exeter.

This message was also posted on Starcross News on Facebook.  and there's been a reply already, from Laura Quaye, which stats that there was a Nicholls who farmed near Dawlish Warren

"Ive found records relating to a Mr William Hudson Nicholls from Eastdon Farm. Sound familiar?"

Here's a picture of Eastdon Farm, from geograph. Copyright Nigel Chadwick. This photograph has been made available to all under a Creative Commons Licence

Could this be the farm they seek?

Here's more information about the Nicholls farming family:

Nicholls certificates
Marriage 25 November 1916 at Register Office, Newton Abbot, by licence before registrars Will E
Horner (Registrar), F Horner (Superintendent Registrar)
William Hudson Nicholls, aged 29, bachelor, farmer, Eastdon Farm, Dawlish West, father John
Jeffry Nicholls, farmer
Mabel Lena Holbrook, aged 22, spinster, 17 Abbotsbury Road, Newton Abbot, father George
Holbrook (deceased), accountant
Solemnised between us: William Hudson Nicholls, Mabel Lena Holbrook
Witnesses: Violet A Nicholls, Leslie J Bassett
Birth 2 January 1928 at Eastdon Farm, Dawlish West
Lena Ann Nicholls, daughter of William Hudson Nicholls, farmer, and Mabel Lena Nicholls
formerly Holbrook,
Informed by W H Nicholls, Eastdon Farm, farmer, on 16 February 1928
Registrar William John Male

HERE'S 's the poignant story, from the Dawlish Local History Group, of the death of the farmer's son,  John Jeffery Nicholls, on 12th October 1918. Private Nicholls  was 9 days short of his 27th birthday. It was one month from the end of the war.

More information from Starcross News on Facebook

Dawlish Warren farmer Richard Weeks has more information about the Eastdon farming family. Could it be the right farm? 

Here's some more info from the enquirers
"I wonder.  Would Eastdon Farm have been part of what is now the Eastdon Estate, which mentions woods and private paths to the beach at Dawlish Warren?   We remember walking through the warren (complete with rabbit droppings!) and a tunnel, which led to the beach;  given our ages, I don't think it could have been a very long walk.   "

and more about the Nicholl family at The Warren

"I believe farmer Nicholls used to farm the marsh land at Dawlish warren after the Second World War. during the summer he had a very basic campsite I imagine this is were your people would have stayed. The marsh land is now hazel wood park and various other holiday camps on that area."

Result!   It's been proved conclusively that the farm concerned is Eastdon Farm and my brother and I are planning our first return since the war.  Grateful thanks to those who responded via Starcross Facebook.    Shirley Marshall


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Swan Design at the Strawberry Fair

It was the Starcross Strawberry Fair on Saturday, 27th June, at St Paul's Church. As well as the traditional cream tea (jam on top) there were scrumptious strawberry cakes and strawberry flans.

Everyone was intrigued to see Starcross artist Vicky Jocher's sketches of her innovative design for the sculpture of The Swan of the Exe.  These sketches won't be published online yet, but the sculpture is no longer just a static reproduction of a boat with a swan's head. Vicky's concept of this sculpture is dramatic, with incredible movement and life. 

If you want to know more about it, and how you can help, please comment below or come to our meeting on Wednesday July 8th, 7:30pm in the new pavilion on Starcross Sportsfield. Afterwards, we'll walk across the sportsfield to  see the almost completed sculpture, which is to be installed on the sculpture trail on Teignmouth seafront the following week.

Meanwhile, here's last week's random swan doodle from Vicky.

And here's Vicky's photograph of the model of  The Swan of the Exe and the Cygnet in the window of  Topsham Museum

Monday, 22 June 2015

Starcross School and The Swan of the Exe

 Starcross Primary School  will collect plastic milk bottles and make feathers for our sculpture of  The Swan of the Exe. The sculpture is due to be installed for TRAIL on Teignmouth seafront in the week starting July 11th, and will remain there throughout the summer holidays. 

The Swan of the Exe project will be led by Starcross artist Vicky Jocher, who has just opened her studio in the Brunel Tower. 

Man fishing on sandy shore full of discarded plastic bottles
photograph from

The Environmental Impact

Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags
 are used worldwide.
More than one million bags are used every minute.

Since the ethos of TRAIL is to protest about the vast quantities of plastic in the Plastic Oceans, then it's appropriate that our Swan of the Exe is a thrown-away plastic dinghy. We may recycle our plastic bottles, and perhaps feel guilty about the amount of plastic packaging we buy, yet whole boats made of plastic can end up on the bottom of the ocean.

The blue plastic dinghy, given to us by Teignbridge, is completely different to the luxurious gold&white of the Victorian yacht, The Swan of the Exe; but we will mimic some of her detail. Her pennant is here described in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries 
upon a silken azure banner, pendent from a brass rod which the bird carries in its mouth, is worked in letters of gold,  its title, The Swan of the Exe.

Taken from Full text of "Devon & Cornwall notes & queries"

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Starcross Stories at next meeting on July 8th

Starcross resident Gordon White has kindly agreed to allow us to present some Starcross stories at our next meeting on July 8th. The talk will include extracts he has deciphered from diaries written hundreds of years ago, in the days when comparatively  few of the population were able to write.

 Please can you display a poster for the next meeting on July 8th? The formatting reproduces differently on here, depending on your browser, or your operating system, or the size of your monitor,  or how many Starcross gremlins lurk in the wires, so Here's the link to the poster on OneDrive

Limited edition Enamel Badges £10
Swan Badge.jpgNo membership fee
No admission charge
Please bring a raffle prize -
Collectors’ booklets - What was an Atmospheric Railway? by Richard Forrester  £3
HISTORY meeting
Wednesday, July 8th  7:30pm in the brand new Starcross Pavilion
Presentation Adam Golding will share some of
Gordon White’s
Starcross Stories
Visit  Myrtle Cottage, to view the maquette and the assemblage for Vicky Jocher’s sculpture of
The Swan of the Exe prior to its installation on the Teignmouth Trail Recycled Art in the Landscape for the summer
Contact: Monica Lang. Starcross 01626 890650

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Stairs Cross Project - Positive response from Starcross Parish Council. More research needed.

Starcross Parish Council kindly considered this idea at their June meet. They are behind us with the idea, and have suggested a possible site. They have gone to a great deal of trouble to carefully  point out the considerations and requirements which will have to be met. Here's their thoughts:

The Parish Council considered your request at the meeting on Monday, and agreed in principle to the creation of a monument on Parish Council land, provided the following conditions can be met:
  1. A suitable piece of ground can be identified
  2. A detailed design plan is submitted to the Parish Council for approval
  3. The History Club can demonstrate that all statutory planning approvals and environmental requirements have been met
  4. The History Club can demonstrate that the project is financially viable and able to fully complete the monument, including fully restoring any surrounding area affected during construction.
  1. The History Club should be able to demonstrate that future maintenance costs will be met
  2. The History Club should be able to demonstrate that this interpretation of the origin of the place name Starcross is historically accurate.
  3. There should also be installed an interpretation sign to inform why the monument is there.
It was noted that land on The Strand between the road and the cycle path close to the footpath across the railway line might be suitable.

Peter Dare, the retired Master Stonemason from Exeter Cathedral, and Luci Coles, the Teignmouth sculptress, have both agreed to help us with their expertise for this project, if they can.

The next stage

Point f  made by the Starcross Parish Council asks us to prove beyond doubt the historical accuracy of this interpretation of the origin of the Starcross place name.

Our basis for this interpretation of the village name is from a paper delivered by Captain George Peacock on 4th June 1869 to the Exeter Naturalists' Club. This paper is mentioned in the Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, which have been digitized for online access
page 157 of volume XV

More research  needs to be done; perhaps the archives of Sherborne Abbey?

If you would do some research, please let us know. You can comment on this blog, or email


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Our Wackin Burd arrives

Here's a drawing of The Swan of the Exe under sail, and next to it is the newly arrived base for Starcross History's Wackin Burd. Thankyou Teignbridge District Council for this dinghy which is perfect for our project. She waits to be made resplendent with a swan's head, neck and wings, and masses of white plumage made from plastic milk bottles.

Lots of help needed, and more feathers please.

Since the message behind our TRAIL project is protest about plastic pollution of the oceans, it's appropriate (and easier )  that our thrown-away plastic boat remains bright blue and very obviously plastic. This makes stark contrast to Captain George Peacock's Swan of the Exe which was a luxurious, wooden yacht, painted white and gold; although her pennant, which she held in her beak, was blue.

 The Victorian poet Nathan Hogg described her in his 1886 poem A Turrabul Ryde be Rayle  …

Vur bigger thin a rick a hay
Thare zwim’d a wackin burd..

 in  Second Series of Nathan Hogg’s Letters and Poems:
 A New Series of Poems in the Devonshire Dialect including The Witch  Story of Mucksy Lane and The Kenton Ghost
Fourth Edition Enlarged. Dedicated by Permission to His Highness Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte.
London: John Russell Smith, 36, Soho Square.  Exeter:H. Baird (the author) 1, St Martin Street Opposite the Exeter Bank and all booksellers
Humeriss Poams; digitized by Google

Friday, 5 June 2015

Victorian Photo Exhibition in Paignton





VICTORIAN BUILDINGS LOST BEFORE 1958 – A photographic survey of some of the best Victorian buildings destroyed in the first half of the twentieth century, among them Crystal Palace (burnt down 30th November 1936), Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (abandoned by the 4th Duke of Sutherland in 1906 and demolished five years later) and Queen’s Park Church, Glasgow (Scotland’s worst architectural loss of the Second World War).

THE FOUNDATION OF THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY – Photographs and material from the opening meetings of the Society. Early members included architect Hugh Casson, architectural historian Christopher Hussey, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Betjeman.

THE EUSTON MURDER AND OTHER CASES – Photographs and text documenting the bitter battle for the Euston Arch, as well some of the Victorian Society’s other early defeats. There were early victories too, among them the Oxford University Museum, proposed for demolition in 1961 to make way for new science buildings. The Victorian Society also succeeded in getting the Broad Street Building of Balliol College listed, after it was threatened with a re-build in 1963.

VICTORY IN WHITEHALL – Photographs charting the heroic, ten-year campaign against plans to demolish much of the historic square mile, including nearly every building south of Downing Street and Richmond Terrace. Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Foreign Office, Richard Norman Shaw’s New Scotland Yard and Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square were among the buildings proposed for demolition.

PLACES OF WORSHIP – A photographic survey of some of the historic churches, chapels and synagogues with which the Victorian Society has been involved. As churches are exempt from the secular planning system, it can be particularly difficult to guard them against insensitive change. With falling attendance figures and a growing number of redundant places of worship, the future of our best churches is one of the biggest challenges facing heritage campaigners today.

RAILWAY BUILDINGS – Photographs of some of the key buildings the Victorian Society fought for, as the closure of many branch and other railway lines resulted in the redundancy of numerous stations, bridges and viaducts. That many pioneering and magnificent railway structures, such as St Pancras Station, survive today, often still in use, is very much owing to the efforts of the Society.

IRON, GLASS & STONE – Photographs of some of the most innovative nineteenth century buildings, among them Clevedon Pier, Islington’s Royal Agricultural Hall and Bradford’s Kirkgate Market, for which the Victorian Society has fought.

THE FUNCTIONAL TRADITION – Photographs of some of the most impressive industrial buildings for which the Society has fought. With the decline of the traditional industries of the North of England after the Second World War, many mills and warehouses became redundant while many Northern towns and cities became ashamed of their Victorian industrial legacy and anxious to replace it with something new. The Victorian Society, along with bodies such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage, argued that nineteenth century industrial buildings were evocative and substantial structures which were not only of historical importance but capable of gainful re-use.

THE PURPLE OF COMMERCE – Photographs of some of the most significant Victorian commercial buildings to have come under threat in the last fifty years. Built partly as self-advertisements and partly to inspire confidence, these ambitious and substantial banks, offices and warehouses too often fall victim to redevelopment schemes.

COUNTRY HOUSES – Photographs of some of the grandest country houses to have been the subject of Victorian Society campaigns, among them Shadwell Park, Tyntesfield and Highcliffe Castle. Rendered redundant by social and cultural changes, some of the most famous large houses were demolished between the wars while many more disappeared in the 1950s.

DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE – A collection of photographs of some of the Victorian villas and terraced houses for which the Victorian Society has fought. Often extravagant and fanciful buildings, these buildings are regularly demolished to allow higher density developments in their grounds or make way for flats.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS – A photographic survey of some of the best municipal buildings that have been saved or lost. Physical embodiments of the Victorians’ strong sense of civic pride and duty, many of these splendid town halls, libraries, swimming pools, museums, art galleries and post offices still add much to the rich character of British towns and cities today.

BEACONS OF THE FUTURE – A survey of some of the Society’s most recent campaigns, focusing on the battle for Victorian schools and swimming pools. Among the battles highlighted are the protest and funeral for Bonner School, the Public Inquiry for Easington Colliery School and the local campaign for the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham.

THE VICTORIANS VICTORIOUS – Photographs of some of the most notable Victorian buildings used and valued today.