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Friday, 27 May 2016

Entry into the Starcross Scarecrow competition

Here's our entry into the Starcross Scarecrow Day - June 18th. It's made up of the tails from our Peacocks' Tails' History Trail on St George's Day. It represents Captain Peacock - so we need a nautical hat. We hope that our peacock scarecrow will also be an exhibit on this year's  Trail Recycled Art in the Landscape  in Teignmouth.

Mrs Peacock and son - until we get a nautical hat to turn her into Captain Peacock

Friday, 20 May 2016

AGM 11th May 2016 - the amended constitution

AGM 2016 with the club badge top RHS

Many thanks to all who came. 
The chair’s report was read out. 
The accounts were presented. 
Barbara Rich and Monica Lang were re-elected as chair and treasurer
Members scrutinized and discussed the constitution.  
We need money for room hire and projects, so should we make a charge on the door at meetings? The constitution allows for a voluntary collection, so this will be implemented - which upholds our principle of History for All with no compulsory charges.   
A proviso was added to the last paragraph: “ Dissolution. …all remaining money and assets… will be donated to Topsham Museum Society provided there is/are no interested party/parties in Starcross.”
  • It was unanimously agreed to formally adopt the amended constitution.

The Constitution of Starcross History This group shall be called ‘Starcross History’
To invite speakers to meetings. 
2.To chronicle the history of Starcross1 
 3. To chronicle the histories of Starcross residents. 
4. To catalogue and photograph buildings of interest. 
5. To have an online archive in form of website and/or a blog. 
6. To make audio &/or video &/or written record of the history of Starcross and its residents.
7.  To record the whereabouts of artefacts associated with Starcross. 
8. To encourage, carry out, or help with; tangible projects which document , publicise or enhance historical aspects of Starcross. 
9. To document archaeological sites in the area. 
10. To investigate archaeological sites in the area. 
11. To publicise historical aspects of Starcross 
12. To contact the descendants of Starcross historical figures, to keep them informed about our relevant research and/or projects. 
13. To visit places which have a connection to Starcross. 
14. To hold social events. 
15. To fundraise to support all these activities
Starcross will benefit from these activities because a wider and more extensive knowledge of its history will add to its identity.
Members To join, anyone may add their name and contact details to the list of members held by the committee.
Starcross History  is open to anyone who supports the aims of the group and participates in its activities
The group will not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, sexuality, disability, religious or political belief, marital status or age.
There will be no membership fee. Instead, there will be collections and raffles at meetings, and fundraising events.  This will provide funds for speakers, room hire, storage facilities, a website, insurance  and administration.
Membership will cease when members  stop volunteering or attending activities, or when they ask for their name to be deleted from the members’ list.
Committee Initially, a committee will be formed from volunteers. The committee will comprise: Chair. Secretary and Treasurer. Further committee members may be co-opted because they have particular skills or knowledge.  Thereafter. a  committee will be elected at the Annual General Meeting
Committee meetings will take place as required
The quorum for committee meetings will be half the number on the committee at the time
Meetings Starcross History will hold a meeting every one or two months.
The date, time and place of the meetings will be advertised
A financial statement will be presented.
Members and/or invited speakers can address the meeting.
The meeting can discuss progress on projects, decide on new projects and plan future activities.
There will be no charge to attend, but there will be a collection, and a raffle, and a charge for refreshments.
Annual General Meeting  Annual General Meetings will take place with a maximum interval of 15 months
The date, time and location of the AGM will be published on the internet, and in local media
Members must submit items for discussion at least two weeks before the published date of the meeting
Nominations for the committee will be taken as soon as the meeting date is published, and at the meeting
The quorum for this meeting is set at 5% of the membership, or 6.
Finance The Lloyds Bank Treasurer's Account will require 2 signatories for all transactions.
All monies will be counted by 2 members, the amounts verified and recorded. The monies will be held by the treasurer  and a financial statement presented to the meetings.
Signatories on  the bank account will be a committee member and the treasurer.
Records of income and expenditure will be maintained by the Treasurer and a financial statement given to each meeting
An annual statement of accounts will be presented to the Annual General Meeting
All money raised Starcross History will be spent solely on the objects laid out in the constitution
If it is agreed to dissolve the group all remaining money and other assets, once outstanding debts have been paid, will be donated to Topsham Museum Society provided there is/are no interested party/parties in Starcross.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Plymouth Course in Basic Archaeological Diving

lead soldier from 1685 Coronation off Plymouth  - head missing and most of his musket, and bottom half of his legs
lead soldier from 1685 Coronation off Plymouth

 MAST - the Marine Archaeology Sea Trust - are running a course in how to be a BAD diver.
May 28th to May 29th

Become a Basic Archaeological Diver!
MAST's Basic Archaeological Diver is a two day course, a no fuss introduction to the basics of archaeology underwater with simple recording techniques using little more than a camera and tape measures. The introduction to the basics will also include a lecture on the laws governing divers and underwater archaeology in the UK. Students will hear exciting talks from well known figures in the underwater archaeology world (please ask for details).

The course is an approved PADI Distinctive Specialty and appropriate PADI certification and qualification cards are awarded on completion of the course. The course is also now becoming a Scuba Schools International (SSI) Specialty. SSI divers will now gain an SSI specialty certification and MAST instructors are now qualified SSI and PADI instructors.
After completion they will have the opportunity of a rare guided tour from the licensee of the 1685 Coronation protected wrecksite off Plymouth.
As Underwater Archaeology specialists you can become the eyes and ears of our underwater heritage.
For details please contact us at Our next B.A.D. course is May 28-29 in Plymouth. The course costs £198 per person for the two days.
2016 dates for the BAD course in Plymouth are as follows:
April 16-17, May 28-29, June 25-26, July 23-24, August 27-28, September 24-25 and October 23-24
(A £45 deposit is required. Payment by BACS is preferred. Please ensure you email MAST to confirm that you have made your payment. If you prefer to send by cheque, please ensure you enclose a covering note with your name and contact details.)

This includes classroom tuition, student handbook, provision of underwater surveying tools for the duration of the course, three open water dives, PADI PIC registration and card and a reduced price voucher to dive the Coronation wreck, which will be valid from one year from the date of the course. It does not include dive equipment rental, air fills, transportation to and from dive site. All profits from the course are donated to MAST to contribute to projects aimed at understanding and conserving our British marine heritage.
If you are a PADI or SSI Instructor and you would like to teach the course, please contact us at either of the emails above.
*We offer a discount to members of the Armed Forces Community. Please speak to us for details.
Please also visit the webpage of the Coronation's wrecksite team at

Sports Diver article:
Want to be a BAD diver?

Marine Archaeology Sea Trust website

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Roman Amphora from 3 fathoms in the mouth of the Exe

This top of a Roman amphora was one of the Show&Tell items which were loaned to Starcross History for its AGM on May 11th.

The late Jim Shapter reported that it was brought up from approximately 20 foot depth (6 metres. 3 fathoms) in the River Exe Estuary, off Cockwood, in 1991; when divers had gone down to inspect Jim's deep water mooring.

In 1994, the following information was kindly provided by Graham Langman of the Archaelogical Field Unit at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter:

It is a type called Dressel 20 and is the commonest form found in Roman Britain. It was made in large numbers along the banks of the river Guadalquivir and its tributaries between Seville and Cordoba in the southern Spanish Province of Baetica, and was used to carry the locally-produced olive oil. The span of production of this type covers three centuries and this amphora will date between the mid first century AD and the third century AD.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Chair's report from AGM

top of Roman amphora brought up 3 fathoms from the Exe Estuary

The May bank holiday in 2014 saw the Starcross Past and Present Festival with displays about the history of the village, in St Paul’s Church, a talk by David Force and the commemoration of the  former Starcross Royal Western Counties Hospital with the siting of a memorial stone. The Devon limestone - the same type of stone as St Paul’s Church - was picked by the St Paul’s Church committee, from Stoneycombe quarry, Kingskerswell. Crediton stonemasons, FJ Stevens and Son were commissioned to carve the 1 tonne stone.
At the festival, names and contact details were taken of people who thought that Starcross should have its own history group. Many appeals were made for someone to start such a group.

I volunteered - in 2015 - and Barbara Rich agreed to be the treasurer. Barbara is much more than treasurer. She organises the meetings - does all the teas and coffees unless someone else helps; runs the raffle and supports my wacky ideas. Without Barbara, we couldn’t have a group at all.
We have never offered our wonderful speakers, artists and helpers any money for expenses or fees. Everyone has given their time, expertise and materials freely. I’m going to list all that’s happened since we started Starcross History, but first of all, I would like to say a big THANKYOU to everyone I’ve roped in, and thankyou to the Starcross Newsletter, the Dawlish Gazette, the notice boards and the Facebook pages for all the free publicity. Our website  has had 25,000 hits, so thankyou Google; for our free website.

First Meet - Tuesday March 10th 2015 in the brand new Starcross Pavilion on the sportsfield. Our first speaker was Alison Miles, who encouraged us to complete a square for the Starcross Wall Hanging - a tangible piece of local history, which celebrates the country life of Starcross.  Please take a look for yourselves - it’s at the front of the main Church here.
 2015 was the 150th anniversary of William Booth's founding of the Salvation Army. Our 2nd speaker of the evening; Peter Hinchliffe's topic was The early battles: Police v Salvation Army. Peter, himself an ex-copper, astounded us with incredible tales of what is now seen as the nineteenth-century police persecution of the Salvation Army. Peter told us how; in Exeter, Plymouth, Honiton, Crediton, Torquay and further afield, salvationalists were arrested and imprisoned, and even killed. An opposing army of thugs; The Skeleton Army had tacit approval to disrupt and attack the salvationalists.

Wednesday May 13th 2015.
Dr Janet Cutler gave a wickedly humorous illustrated talk on Brunel in the West Country. Her slideshow demonstrated her great determination to get the best shots. The one of the SS Great Britain's last time afloat - as she lumbered up the Avon into Bristol, showed how decrepit the old boat was. She’d been beached in The Falklands and used as a warehouse, then scuttled and left to rot. Frenzied crowds jostled for a position to see the fragile wreck go under the suspension bridge 127 years after she’d left Bristol. Janet Cutler stayed put amongst the melee, and got the perfect shot she wanted. We were able to see the ravages of an 8,000 mile journey on an already dangerously deteriorated hulk.
There were slides of the broadgauge loco, The North Star, and stories of the chaos when broad gauge met narrow gauge... or any gauge met a gauge of a different size. 

More slides focussed on the beauty of Brunel's structures, such as Bristol Temple Meads, and his many ornate stone bridges. Brunel was an architect of some skill. The Clifton suspension bridge wasn't actually built by Brunel. It was built after he died, as a memorial to the great man. 

The second speaker was Luci Coles, who explained the passions, for both sculpture and the environment, behind Trail Recycled Art in the Landscape in Teignmouth, in which Starcross History had just entered their idea for their Swan of the Exe sculpture. Luci talked about the involvement of schools, community groups and businesses in the project. She spoke of the ability which art has to get a message across to everyone - but not everyone will go into an art gallery, so TrailArt, in tourist spots on Teignmouth Den and in Shaldon Botanic Gardens, has a universal impact. Its message is about pollution, especially plastic pollution.

June 2015 Teignbridge District Council gave us an old, bright blue, plastic boat for the sculpture. Brenda Barkwill suggested using white plastic milkbottles to make swan feathers and I found an orange swan-beak-coloured paddle on Teignmouth back beach. Starcross artist Vicky Jocher agreed to create our Swan of the Exe sculpture.

July 8th 2015

Gordon White kindly lent his remarkable catalogue of research and photographs to Adam Golding who used them to present Starcross Stories. Time allowed for only a fraction of Gordon’s comprehensive collection. We learned about rows of Starcross and Powderham cottages which burned down or were summarily demolished by Brunel, to make way for his railway. Back in the nineteenth century, it was suggested that the railway would be difficult to maintain if it were to be built along the shoreline...
The Royal Western Counties
Hospital was first of all run privately;  in converted cottages, and had only a handful of inmates. The capable woman who ran it was sacked because... she was a woman. New rules of new management stipulated that the person in charge had to be a man...
Smugglers met in the Courtenay Arms.

2 carts fully loaded with stolen goods were discovered by the constabulary in a lean-to shed; right beside the thieves' cottage.

Vicky Jocher showed us her maquette of The Swan of the Exe sculpture, and explained her Swan of the Exe workshops presented at Starcross Primary School. The older children had been discussing pollution in the oceans, in a forum only the previous week. All the children were enthused to actively protest about pollution of the planet when they helped to create our exhibit for Trail. Then they made feathers out of the plastic milkbottles they had brought to school and they attached their feathers to a piece of trawler net which had been found drifting off Teignmouth. They looked forward to seeing the completed sculpture on Plot 12, near the Teignmouth Pier.
The Starcross History group then walked to the former village sweetshop, Myrtle Cottage, to see the nearly-completed sculpture.


July 2015 Vicky Jocher installed The Swan of the Exe by Teignmouth pier


September 9th 2015  Dr Sally Ayres gave a talk on Rear Admiral Francis Godolphin Bond  who retired to Starcross in 1801.  He sailed to Tahiti in 1791 with his uncle, who was The Bounty's Captain William Bligh. The rare Tahitian artefacts Bond collected are displayed in the Royal  Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

Bligh and his nephew jointly owned the house that is now Exeter’s Ship Inn. 
Sally's interest in Bond comes from her research into the Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum’s Pacific Collection. Much of the collections in RAMM was donated by the Devon and Exeter Institution which was founded in 1813 by some two hundred gentlemen of the county and city, [which included Francis Godolphin Bond.]
The institution was ‘for promoting the general diffusion of Science, Literature and Art, and for illustrating the Natural and Civil History of the county of Devon and the city of Exeter’. The site of the Devon and Exeter Institution was originally owned by the Courtenay family of Powderham. Today’s chairman of the institution lives in Starcross.
Bond’s main interest on his Pacific voyages was to procure plants; many of which are in our gardens today.  Breadfruit had been hailed as the plant to save the world from starvation, but the varieties of unpalatable breadfruit which Bond gathered became cheap fodder for our slaves in the plantations
One of Rear Admiral Godolphin Bond's sons was Rev. Edward Copleston Bond who lived in the vicarage at Starcross from 1865.
Bond died in 1880 and was buried in the cemetery of Exeter's Holy Trinity Church. This graveyard was removed by the City Council in l987-88 and the remains were reinterred in Exeter Higher Cemetery. All that remains today of the Bond family tomb is a simple gravestone.
Holy Trinity  Church was deconsecrated in 1969, and stood empty and derelict for 20 years. The Royal Navy rescued this lovely Victorian building, which is now The White Ensign Club.


Saturday September 12th 2015 from   9am until 4pm.  Steampunk Hat Workshop and Steampunk Bring&Buy in St Paul's Church. This was part of the Devon Historic Churches Day - another opportunity to get the kids involved, and some publicity for us.


Saturday October 24th

The team from St Paul’s Church swung into action to provide teas and coffees and their sumptuous cakes, and to man the stalls at our good old-fashioned Jumble Sale. Every pew was filled with jumble, and the raffle table had lots of prizes. Thankyou to everyone who donated items and gave of their time. The leftovers were kindly dealt with by the team at the Westbank Charity Shop.


Wednesday November 11th

Attendance was up at our November meet, because our popular retired GP, Dr Ian Goodrick was the speaker. Some of us could also remember the 'good old days' (?) when a doctor would 'tell it to you like it was'. We were able to see a selection of photographs which included the build of the present Starcross surgery.
Ian's tragic Victorian tale of a Starcross woman who died from a post-natal infection could never happen again in the village, because modern obstetric practice has improved exponentially. The infection within this unfortunate new mother was not discovered until it was too late.  New mothers today are looked after and monitored carefully for any signs of problems; not simply left to enjoy their new baby in the hope that all will be well.
However, this isn't true of the rest of the world.
Liz Moore was at the meeting. She lives in Starcross, and is the founder of Call the Midwife Tanzania, which is a charity working with the Maasai. A Maasai woman achieves status when she has children. The more children she has, the higher her status. But one Maasai woman in seven would die in childbirth. In the villages where Liz's charity works, this horrific statistic has been reduced to almost zero. 

Valerie Forrester also addressed the meeting. Like Starcross History,  Valerie is interested in oral records, but her purpose is for The Dawlish and Teignmouth Area Talking Newspaper., which is for blind and partially sighted people. The publication, Hear  and Now, is recorded weekly. There aren't yet any subscribers in Starcross, so if you know anyone who would benefit from this, or if you would like to help with this worthwhile project, please get in touch.


January 13th 2016

The January meet munched its way through the generous free samples as they listened to Andrew Cadbury’s delicious talk about his family and the development of the chocolate industry.
The reason that so many UK businesses were started by Quakers was that universities would not accept Quakers. Quakers were unable to study for professions such as law and medicine. Bright youngsters from Quaker families had no alternative but to go into business. They founded Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank, Huntley and Palmers Biscuits, Bryant and May matches, and Clark’s shoes. The Fry, Rowntree, Terry and Cadbury families became confectioners. Andrew showed us a book by his niece Deborah; Chocolate Wars.
In 1824, John Cadbury opened a grocer’s shop in Bull St, Birmingham. With pestle and mortar, he produced drinking chocolate, which he saw as healthy, and much preferable to alcoholic drinks. As his chocolate product range expanded to include confectionary, Cadbury’s manufacturing moved to larger factories.
 The Cadbury family believed that their loyal workforce deserved to enjoy a quality lifestyle. In 1879, they built a village and a factory near rural Selly Oak, where there was a trout stream called The Bourn. The “Bournville” workers’ houses had back-to-back gardens, separated by rows of fruit trees. Facilities included sports pitches and swimming pools. There were works outings and summer camps for the children. In the Victorian era remembered for industrial cruelty and deprivation, the Cadbury name became just as famed for its social benefits and advances in working conditions, as it was famed for its chocolate.
The recipe for Cadbury’s milk chocolate remains a secret. Cadbury’s chocolate today is manufactured worldwide, and the recipe varies in the different countries.
Cadbury is now owned by the US giant, Mondelez. The corners of the milk chocolate bars are rounded. There’s a new product which combines cheese’nchocolate - Cadbury  Philadelphia -

January 2016
Adrian Wood contacted me about the plight of the iconic Railway Carriage Camping Site on Dawlish Warren, which will close when the summer season ends.

January 2016
To have The Stover Canal Trust speaker at a meeting would cost £40 fee plus expenses but they  offered to meet the Starcross History Group in a pub for a chat about their work.

January 2016
Melissa Muldoon started an after school club in Starcross Primary School, to make peacocks’ tails’ to jazz-up the proposed history trail on St George’s Day in April. Peacocks’ Tails’ Trail was Pauline Allen’s idea, and she helped at all the workshops.

February 2016
My application to Historic England to get; the Railway Carriage Camping Site on Dawlish Warren; listed was refused but Historic England would like to help. They advised me to contact Teignbridge District Council.

March 9th 2016
Valerie Forrester payed tribute to her late husband Richard Forrester. It was Richard, the keen industrial historian, who saved our Brunel Pumping House - which had been scheduled for demolition.
The meeting heard about life in the tower where the Forresters opened their Atmospheric Railway Museum. Richard’s clever design, for his ride-on model of an atmospheric  railway, used ordinary household vacuum cleaners to create a vacuum in a pipe. The pipe ran from one end of the building to the other. His flat-bed truck ‘train’ was propelled along by atmospheric pressure. Visitors were keen to ride the train for the whole length of the building. That exciting working model is remembered fondly by the thousands of visitors to the Forresters’ Atmospheric Railway Museum in the Brunel Pumping House.
In response to the many visitors who enquired where they might get a cup of tea, the Forresters opened a café in the tower, and served cream teas. Valerie concluded, “ I like to think that we brought something more to Starcross; that we made it worth a visit”.

Keen railway historian Adrian Wood kindly led the discussion on the Campaign to save Railway Carriage Camping at Dawlish Warren
The site will close after August. The Great Western Railway Staff Association have managed to continue to operate the camping carriages for 23 years after the privatisation of the railways. All but one of the carriages now needs replacing. Could the trend for holidays in the UK in quirky accommodation and glamping be exploited;? Perhaps one of the local holiday camps might wish to add railway carriage camping to their site? Or perhaps they might purchase the original site to provide another aspect to their existing campsite? Rail Holiday in Cornwall  provide holidays in specialised glammed-up railway carriages. They  wish us well with our campaign, and have offered their advice when we need it.
Historic England have explained that portable railway carriages are not within their remit, so they had to refuse my application to list the site. (although they are keen to help if they can) This rules out Heritage Lottery and other similar funding. Historic England advised me to contact our district council. Teignbridge Planning referred me to their local plan, which will be the consideration for any change of use.  Maureen Pearce is their Team Leader, Design and Heritage. She tells of a precedent for a listed railway carriage; in Shirwell, North Devon. This carriage, built for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897, is now a skittle alley.
Members promised to approach Dawlish Warren holiday camps to see if they would be interested to continue the tradition of railway carriage camping.

St George's Day Saturday April 23rd 12:00 noon

The Peacock's Tail Trail : a trail around some historically interesting places in Starcross, starting and finishing at St Paul's Church. TEDDY ToMBoLA Teas, Coffees and fantastic cakes BRING AND BUY     

Profits from the bring and Buy went to St Paul's Church.  The TEDDY ToMBoLA was run by the Starcross Westbank Charity  shop
Peacocks' tails remind us of the Starcross adventurer and inventor, Captain George Peacock. 
The trail quiz&clue sheets were sold for 50p by local organisations, to raise money for themselves.
·        Trail quiz and clue sheet attached
Information about the location was displayed by each tail with a relevant rubber stamp, - 8 specially made by Melissa Muldoon.
The trophy for the Best Peacocks’ Tail was presented by Andrew Cadbury to 3-year-old Olivia Genders who received it on behalf of Starcross Pre-school. All the pre-school children’s hand-prints were incorporated into a spectacular tail.
Every child who collected all the stamps was awarded a certificate and a peacock-related prize.
·        3 Trail Certificates attached
Children still talk about Tony Miller’s secret, at the old Starcross police house, at the North end of the village.

I have answered email enquiries from people further afield. Via my Facebook page; Starcross News;  I have successfully appealed for information about a local farmhouse and the staff at Starcross hospital.


2 Projects to do

1.      Re-create the Stairs Cross

Starcross got its name because of the stone cross at the top of a flight of stairs. The cross was put up by the Bishop of Sherborne after 1146. It was destroyed by Henry V111th. Was it broken and pushed into the Exe? Was it pushed whole into the Exe. An archaeologist tells me that the science of geophys is not yet advanced enough to survey in saturated ground - but might be one day.

Peter Dare, retired Master Stonemason at Exeter Cathedral, is willing to advise with our project to re-create a stone cross.

Funding to train youngsters to carve a stone cross could be available from National Lotteries Young Roots.

Starcross Parish Council will provide a site for a cross, or a stairs and cross, if we can further verify the research to prove that it existed. Someone I helped with her family  research has tried, without success, to locate the information at Sherborne Abbey.


2.      Oral History

In April, I was welcomed to the studio of Dawlish and Teignmouth Talking Newspaper. The team there will record stories from Starcross, and also come out to Starcross to record. The soundbytes could be put on the Starcross History website. When we have enough Starcross Stories, they will make a CD which we can sell.

Pictures to animate the sound would make the CD more saleable. We could use old and new  photographs, drawings and animations.


Under threat

The Peacock-Cookson Memorial

The pink marble memorial in St Paul’s churchyard is in need of restoration. The team at St Paul’s are exploring ways to fund this.


Scheduled Events

  • Parrot workshop at Starcross Activities Day, Saturday May 14th  2016 11:00am until 4:00pm

  • JUMBLE SALE Saturday June 4th 2016 from 2:00pm in St Paul’s Church


In conclusion, I feel that it’s important to involve everyone; even children, in local history. That’s why we have no joining fee. That’s why we don’t make a compulsory charge at the door at the meetings. Our events are aimed at children as well as grown-ups. Local history gives IDENTITY to a place, and its people.


Monica Lang


Starcross History