3 September 2018
Starcross is a small town beside the River Exe. Brunel decided that his railway should run along the edge of the Estuary and Starcross station is right on the water. A sharp metallic bridge connects the ‘up’ and ‘down’ platforms, the only link between the town and the estuary with its jetties and boats.
A year ago when Lou Gare was in hospital I went into Exeter to visit him. The bus journey was broken unexpectedly by a lengthy stop at Starcross where the bus route runs parallel with the railway. The driver switched off the engine and for a quarter of an hour (it seemed longer) nothing moved. No train passed. No bird sang. To quote Edward Thomas’ Adlestrop, ‘No one left and no one came on the bare platform’.
While thinking about Lou’s situation, I had plenty of time to contemplate the bridge, a jagged zig-zag symbol. I was also thinking about the new piece I was working on, inspired by a hymn that Kate and I had heard recently in church, the John Ireland setting of Samuel Crossman’s 17th century text, My Song is Love Unknown. Eventually the driver got back into his cab, switched on the engine and the journey to Exeter resumed. This hospital visit was the last time I saw Lou.
Starcross Bridge is on Hat Hut Records, hatOLOGY 754
and is available from Westbrook Records
Information about the CD and sound samples
Remembering John and Margery Styles, founder members of Smith’s Academy.
Photographs by Kate Westbrook