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

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Peacocks' Tails' Trail

On St George's Day, Saturday 23rd April, the weather was warm and sunny for the Peacocks' Tails' History Trail around the village. St Pauls' Church provided a delicious assortment of cakes and savories for the families as they returned from admiring all the tails and discovering lots of stuff about Starcross.

Here's the clues, the quiz, pictures of the peacocks' tails and the specially made stamps, and some information about the locations:

  1.        First of all, find Captain Peacock’s grave; in St Paul’s churchyard.

Follow clues to find all the peacocks’ tails and then it won’t be hard
to find each nearby letterbox stamp to stamp upon your card.
·        ? What was the name of Captain Peacock’s Victorian maritime folly yacht; the one that looked like a swan and was moored off Starcross Pier?

2.   The next tail on the trail is by the school-house door.

Its letterbox stamp is nearby on the floor.
·        ? What are the classes at Starcross Primary School named after?

3. Western Drive, Counties Crescent and lastly, Royal Way

commemorate the asylum; Starcross’s yesterday.
A peacock’s tail is there to see, by  General’s Slipway;
its letterbox is hid from sight, but not too far away.
·        ? In what century was the hospital built?

The roads around here were named Royal Way, Counties Crescent and Western Drive because this housing estate was built in the 90s on land where The Royal Western Counties Hospital used to be.  The hospital started with around 2 dozen inmates in a house rented from Lord Devon of nearby Powderham Castle.
The Western Counties Idiot Asylum …was built in 1874-1877. The architect was  JW Rowell. This institution was founded in 1864 at first in a house with two acres of land at Starcross which was rented from WR Courtenay, the 11th Earl of Devon. The institution housed 40 patients by 1870 and a larger building was needed which opened in 1877 and was able to house 60 boys and 40 girls. Additions to the building were added in 1886 and 1909 and a total of 1,451 patients were admitted by 1913.
In 1914 the asylum was incorporated under the Companies Act and became known as the Western Counties Institution, Starcross. Patients became trained in skills such as carving, weaving and carpentry as part of their rehabilitative care.
In 1948 with the advent of the National Health Service, the institution became absorbed into the NHS and merged into the Royal Western Counties Institution Hospital Group which coordinated all of the residential mental deficiency services. The institution came under the control of the Devon Area Health Authority in 1974 and the Exeter Health Authority from 1982.
[The Royal Western Counties Hospital] was closed in 1986, and demolished. accessed 23rd April 2016

… the asylum was intended to accommodate all the people with learning difficulties from Devon and Cornwall. For over a century, hundreds of children grew up in Starcross toiling at menial tasks like knitting dishcloths; a stone’s throw from beaches where able-bodied children played happily with families not knowing anything about the deprived children behind the walls on the other side of the [River Exe]
from Growing up with Disability by Carole Robinson and Kirsten Stalker
Jessica Kingsley Publishers. London and Philadelphia
accessed online   23 April 2016

When Brunel built his Great Western Railway along the estuary on the Powderham estate, the Earl of Devon insisted that arches were built so that local people who made their living from the River Exe continued to have access to its shores. This slipway on General’s Lane is one such access.

4.    Myrtle Cottage was a sweetie shop that sold old-fashioned sweets
like gobstoppers and dolly mixtures, sherbert dabs and chewy treats .
Its peacock’s tail is on a chair.
Its letterbox stamp is also there.
·        ? What colour are the myrtle flowers at Myrtle Cottage?


     The pre-school joined the history trail
and their their peacock’s tail is cool
It’s by the Royal British Legion club,
opposite the school.
·        ? What do the Royal British Legion do?




 PLEASE DON’T CROSS THE BUSY ROAD  to see the tail at the Brunel Tower
is underneath Sue’s bar.
Go into The Galleon and ask for
·        ? Brunel’s atmospheric railway ran from Exeter to where?

  No longer the ring of the hammer, or the smell of the burning hoof,
no more of the blacksmith’s tea brewed on the furnace  under  the roof;
peacocks wouldn’t enjoy the heat
but the old forge remains in the watery-named street.
The peacock’s tail’s by the gate on display.
Its letterbox stamp is not far away.
Who was the Starcross blacksmith in 1930?

Imagine Starcross in 1930  when Charles Elliot was the blacksmith at this forge
Here’s the Starcross commerce listed in Kelly’s Directory at that time:

Anning, James, farmer, Cofford Farm
Ash, Ernest Albert, plumber, The Strand
Assembly Rooms (prop. Mrs. Ellen B Clark)
Bricknell, Ellen (Mrs) draper
Brown, B & Sons, fruit growers, Exe Nurseries
Burrows, William Henry, grocer, The Strand
Coombes, George, insurance agent, The Strand
Courtenay Arms Hotel (prop. Mrs Ellen B Clark)
Elliott, Charles, blacksmith
Elliott, George, insurance agent, The Strand
Godfrey, Ernest Frederick, tax collector, Commercial Union agent
Guest Bros., motor engineers
Hill, William John, baker
Humphries, Sidney Robert, builder, 7 Coronation Terrace
Iles, John Hyde MA; MB; BC Camb.,Surgeon and Medical Officer
Kelland, William John, boot repairer, The Strand
Kerswell, Albert Charles, boot repairer
Lear, Ernest Edward, clerk to Western Counties Institution
Lloyds Bank Ltd, sub branch Dawlish
Lovelock, Harry, Ship Inn
Masonic Lodge (Mitchell Moore, Sec.)

Mayer, Captain Charles W, Superintendent, Western Counties
Mortimore, Henry, farmer, Venn Bridge
National Provincial Bank, Exeter Branch
Parkhouse, J and H, coal merchants
Potter, Edwin, builder
Railway Hotel (prop. Mrs Annie Venning)
Reynolds, Walt, chimney sweep
Rowe, Frank, MPS, chemist & druggist, The Strand
Saunders, Harry, farmer, Tiverlands
Sercombe, Frederick James, basket maker
Shoemack, Edward, market gardener, 1 Rose Cottages
Simmons, Robert Henry, builder, Exe Bank
Skinner, Margaret (Mrs), Alexandra Public House
Tarr, James Frederick, market gardener, Southbrook
Templeman, R K, butcher, Courtenay Place
Towill, George Henry, insurance agent, 8 Courtenay Terrace
Tupman's Stores, grocers, The Strand
Western Counties Institution (Captain Mayer, resident superintendent)
Williams, Sidney, farmer, Staplake Farm
Wills, Richard John, cycle agent, Wells Street

Many thanks to Devon Heritage Centre - resource accessed  online April 20, 2016

8.       Pennyfarthing cottage was where they mended bikes.
Could this be the peacock tail that everybody likes?
·        ? What was a Pennyfarthing?


9      Captain George Peacock lived at Regent’s House.
His letterbox stamp will be under a mouse.
·        ? Name one of Captain George Peacock’s inventions.

Captain George Peacock lived in Regent House. He was a Victorian inventor and adventurer. He invented:
the screw propeller
an anti fouling paint to coat  the hull of a ship
an invulnerable floating battery
a refuge buoy beacon
a granulated floating poncho, which in the event of a shipwreck could be used as a life preserver!
the ‘Nautilus Bathing Dress’, the top half of which was inflatable and designed for Swimming in Safety with Decorum
 The Swan of the Exe
The Cygnets
a saltwater to drinking water converter still in use on ships today

10.       A rebuilt house named one colour adjoins  Regent’s House in The Strand.
It burned down in the thirties. The only things left to stand
were the walls on the outside. Two fire brigades tried their best.
They ensured no-one was injured, or laid to eternal rest.
·        ? In what year was this disastrous fire?


On the Saturday night, Mr Richards made his customary bedtime inspection of the house. He checked the locks on the doors and the window-latches. He raked the ashes from the sitting room fire, then ascertained that his mother, and his daughter Evelyn, were in their beds asleep; before he retired to bed with his wife.

At around 5 on Sunday morning, Miss Evelyn Richards was awoken by the smell of smoke. She aroused her father, who followed the smoke down into the basement. He discovered that 4 joists were alight. Smoke began to fill Red House. Mr Richards ensured that his daughter and his wife made their immediate escape; even though they were clad only in their night attire. Mr Richards wet a towel and put it over his head. Surrounded by dense smoke, he was just able to breathe through the towel. He groped along in dense smoke to his mother’s bedroom. Mr Richards wet another towel, draped it over his elderly mother’s head, and carried her downstairs and out into the street. The women were comforted in a neighbouring property which belonged to Mr Richards’ father; Mr Rowe.

Mr Richards immediately aroused Dr JH Iles, who lived next door on the North side in Swan House. Dr Iles telephoned the exchange who called the Exeter Fire Brigade. The Peacock family in the next door South side; Regent House; were away. Mr Campion was the caretaker of Regent House. He lived in a nearby cottage and was one of the first Starcross villagers on the scene, with Horace Daw and his father. The intense heat prevented the many villagers from effectively fighting the fire, so they concentrated on salvaging the furniture from Swan House. Very little of the furniture from Regent House was able to be saved.

When the Dawlish Brigade arrived,” It was just like a raging furnace.” “We could not go near it.” Flames shot up 30 foot. The whole village was lit up. Under Captain Holman, the Dawlish Brigade concentrated on Regent House and Swan House. Water came from a street hydrant, and a 30,000 gallon storage tank at the Western Counties Institution. Staff from the institution who came to help included: Mr EG Magrow (engineer and clerk of works) and Mr R Millman (attendant). Firefighting equipment from the institution was used. Dawlish Brigade ran their engine under the railway through Bishop’s Arch. Although it was low tide, they obtained sufficient water to pump up a powerful jet.

The Exeter Brigade also attended. The strong south-easterly wind hampered the efforts of both brigades to contain the fire. Red House became an inferno. The flames eat through to Swan House but the two brigades managed to prevent the fire from reaching its staircase. It took over 5 hours to subdue the fire. All that remained of the seven-bedroom Red House were its exterior walls. Both adjoining houses suffered considerable fire damage.

Those who assisted the two brigades were: Constable Ball (Starcross), Sgt West, Constables A & S Stephens (Dawlish), AA & RAC Scouts FH Pike, H Daw, S Hart, W Pike, B&W Badcock, J Skinner, J Selley and B Guest.

11.       Kenny’s peacock tail is displayed quite high
The letterbox stamp is lurking nearby
·        ? When was the Starcross Railway Station building demolished?

[Starcross railway] station was opened by the South Devon Railway on 30 May 1846. It only had a single platform at this time, the second one being added in November 1848. It was provided with a train shed until 1906 when the station was rebuilt.
Trains were worked by atmospheric power from 13 September 1847 until 9 September 1848. The engine house was subsequently used as a Methodist chapel; a youth club; a coal store; a museum of the atmospheric railway; and is currently the home of the Starcross Fishing and Cruising Club.
The South Devon Railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876, which in turn was nationalised into British Railways on 1 January 1948.
Public goods traffic was withdrawn from 6 September 1965 and coal traffic ceased on 4 December 1967. The station became unstaffed on 3 May 1971 and the old station building was finally demolished in 1981. The footbridge, which had been erected in 1895, was replaced by the present structure in 1999.
wiki accessed 23rd April 2016

12.       The Atmo’s tail is on the wall outside
Ask for the setterbox inside
·        ? What’s another name for an atmospheric railway

13.       Did they lock naughty folk up in this tiny jail
at the North end of the village? or is it just a tale?
For children with grown-ups, if Tony is there
he’ll show them a secret - which you could see if you stare.
The peacock’s tail will be on the gate on display,
and its letterbox stamp will be not far away
·        ?What’s the open secret in the garden?

Northend Cottage, Starcross Grade: II
Date Listed: 2 December 1988 English Heritage Building ID: 85948

OS Grid Reference: SX9756382207 OS Grid Coordinates: 297563, 82207
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6305, -3.4497
Location: A379, Starcross, Devon EX6 8PA Local Authority: Teignbridge District Council. Postcode: EX6 8PA
 KENTON THE STRAW, Starcross  SX 98 SE 6/283
Early C19. Grey limestone rubble, slate roof, gabled at ends with coped gables and kneelers; stone lateral stack with yellow brick shaft to left wall of main block. The scale and Gothic style suggest a lodge but there is no evidence that it ever served this purpose. It was lived in by a policeman in 1871 and may have been a purpose built police cottage. Tudor style. Plan: A small cottage with one principal heated room with a porch on the north side and a single-storey service room under a lean-to roof on the south side. A stair rises in the front right corner of the main room. C20 addition to rear left. Exeterior: Very well-preserved. The I window front elevation has a Gothic gabled porch with a deeply-chamfered 4-centred doorway with a shield carved over the porch. The doorway is now blocked and the porch is entered on the left return, the right return has a stone-framed slit window and the main block has a similar slit window to the left of the porch. Arched inner doorframe with a 4-centred arched C19 plank and cover strip front door. The left return (facing the road) has a small canted bay window to the ground floor with glazing bars and a 2-light first floor C19 casement, a similar window at the left lights the lean-to. The right return also has a C19 canted bay window, so the principal room is lit from both sides. Interior: Original joinery survives: fireplace blocked. The  deeds are said to go back to 1870 when the house was purchased by the Powderham Estate.  An unusual and attractive small roadside house. Listing NGR: SX9756382207

14.       The last peacock’s tail and letterbox is inside St Paul’s Church.
Show us your stamps and VOTE FOR THE BEST TAIL  to win
a Melissa Peacock Certificate to colour in.
The first few back can choose a peacock prize or feather.
We hope you’ve had fun in the glorious Deb’n weather.