Starcross 2019-04-05T16:28:15+00:00

Archive Video

The South West Film and TV archive has provided historical news footage for each village


Tap or click to play the Starcross footage from the archive

Was this a crossroads where starlings gathered
Before their flight over the sea?
Or the cross where pilgrims landed
To continue their souls weary journey?

Oh spring has set off her green fuses
Down by the river today
And careless, like tide marks, the hedges
Are bursting with violets so gay

Here lie I, waiting for old summer
A red face and straw-coloured hair has he
I shall meet him on the road to Marazion
And the Mediterranean Sea

Was this a crossroads where starlings gathered
Before their flight over the sea?
Or the cross where pilgrims landed
To continue their souls weary journey?

September has flung a spray of starlings
On the sea-chart of the sky
The tall shipmasts crack in the forest
And the banners of autumn fly

My room is a bright glass cabin
All Devon thunders at my door
And the white ships of winter lie
In the sea-roads to the moor

Was this a crossroads where starlings gathered
Before their flight over the sea?
Or the cross where pilgrims landed
To continue their souls long journey?

Starcross Song, Jim Causley

The Stories of Starcross

“Song of Starcross”

Listen to "Song of Starcross" by Jim Causley

Viking Letter – AD 1001

Starcross, 15th July AD 1001

Skol! Staircross Angles! Your crosses not so helpful to you now! In fact all the crosses and churches from here to Pinhoe are now doing very good impression of burning ashes! Ha ha! How you like the big Topsham bonfire across the water, hey?…

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“In the Sidings”

Listen to "In the Sidings" by Jim Causley

The Storm – 1824

Starcross, November 23rd 1824

The injury done to Starcross, by the storm and flood which prevailed last night and this morning, is truly melancholy. The water has made several breaches in the wall which protects the village, and had risen in the street to the height of many feet; several houses are much damaged and it is feared that some will be destroyed by the incursion of the water…

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“Starcrossed Inventors”

Listen to "Starcrossed Inventors" by Jim Causley

Brunel  – February 1846

My carriage and travelling desk
(overlooking the Exe estuary at Starcross which is not unpleasant)
18th February 1846

Dearest wife,

Work continues into this frosty night on the pumphouse at Starcross for South Devon Railways. If we hold to our schedule we will test Messieurs Clegg and Samuda’s patented ingenious vacuum traction this summer. No more will the railway passenger endure choking smoke and smuts on the face and hands. Static pump houses at two mile intervals on the line to Newton Abbot will create a vacuum in the pipe between the rails to suck the locomotive forward with an impressive and irresistible force…. read more

“The Fishermen of Starcross”

Listen to "The Fishermen of Starcross" by Jim Causley

Anne Toby 1834

Starcross, 1834

My dear Grace,
Thanks you for your concern, I am certainly feeling much improved although still a little shaken and disinclined to venture out much at all these days. I am pleased to say that some form of justice has been done this week, with William Bittle being sentenced to a fine for what he formerly described as his “fine spree” at my expense. Naturally he was unable to pay and so has been committed to prison for two months which will hopefully serve him right and act as a deterrent to his confederates.

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“Joseph Keys”

Listen to "Joseph Keys" by Jim Causley

Brunel – August 1846

The Courtenay Arms Hotel, Starcross
22nd August 1846

Dearest Mary,

Rain, rain, and yet more rain. I begin to understand why the fields are so verdant green either side of this Devonish estuary. Four days ago the locals celebrated their regatta, quite oblivious to the torrential downpour. There were four man gigs navigating the choppy waters, inebriated crowds cheering them on to the oom pa pa of the Dawlish Band, but a man called Thomas beat them all in his punt, thereby winning the lavish £1 prize. Perhaps I should press him for some small scale investment… read more


A Local residents describes the Flower Train.

The Boy Who Couldn’t Say Beans 1839

Exeter Flying Post 1839

Starcross schoolmaster summoned for assault

At the Wonford Petty session on Tuesday, William P Towill, master of the Starcross Board School was summoned for assaulting William Hutchings, a scholar on 31st May.  The boy stated that the defendant gave him two or three stripes with a stick with cord around it because he could not say the word “beans”.  Mr Towill also gave him a shaking.  

The defendant tried to induce him several times to say the word “beans” correctly and it was after his supposed obstinacy that the master gave him two or three cuts.

Wallace Reynolds, aged 12 gave evidence corroborative of the complainant’s story.  The master used a cane with wax ends, not the usual cane.  The boy cried very much.  

Emma Bradford, the infant schoolmistress said the boy was troublesome, although bright and intelligent.  He was obstinate and would not do as he was told. The bench considered that the defendant only administered such chastisement as was right and proper and therefore the case was dismissed.

“The Royal Counties Hospital”

Local Resident Pamala Hooper rememebers the closure of the Western Counties Hospital

Royal Counties Hospital 

Dear Diary,

My Uncle Joe was in the royal Western Counties Hospital at Starcross for twenty five years. He went in an idiot and came out High Grade Feeble-Minded. Suppose you could say he got a promotion.

Those were the legal medical definitions in the 50’s. Mentally subnormal starts with Idiot at the bottom, then Imbecile, the Low Grade, Medium Grade and High Grade Feeble-Minded. S’all in the patient inventory.

My mum didn’t want Uncle Joe, who was her little brother, to go in there.

“he was no trouble to us even if meal times was messy affairs”….

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Brunel  – September 1848

The Pump House, Starcross, 10th September 1848

Dearest Mary,

Rats, rats, rats.
I speak not in expletives but refer to the scuttering oily-tailed beasts who have thwarted the hopes of better Englishmen than I. Was it not the black rat who brought the terrible plague to this land, decimating our population, their infected legions only to be vanquished by the Great Fire of London, and now they feast on the tallow with which my leather valves are coated, and this pump house in which I stand, can pump with all its might but no vacuum or locomotion is created…. read more

Brunel – July 1857

Brunel Manor, Watcombe, Torquay, 5th July 1857

Dearest Mary,

Success! She of the lighted lamp, our daughter’s namesake, Florence Nightingale, is singing my praises, all the way from the overheated plains of the Crimea.

“Those magnificent huts” as she calls them, which I designed with William Eassrie out of collapsible pallets of canvas and wood, have arrived in Scutari, and are assembled, with my systems for air conditioning and sanitation all working to satisfaction!…. read more