If you walk out to Teignhead Farm the chances are that you will cross the North Teign river by the main clapper bridge. However if one was to walk about 100 yards downstream you will come to a small clapper bridge and on the eastern bank is a small boulder with a small cross and ‘F H S 1912 -1989’ incised on it. The boulder and the small clapper are both memorials to F. H. or ‘Harry’ Starkey, originally the clapper bridge was known as the Manga Clapper.
An imitative was taken by the Teignmouth WEA in early 1990 to consult with the Dartmoor National Park Authority for permission to restore the clapper. The cost of the repairs was met from the appeal fund set up by the WEA which was generously subscribed to by members of the public. As it was Harry Starkey that discovered the dilapidated clapper it was deemed fitting that it should be restored in his memory. On the 1st of April 1990 a memorial walk was organised to visit the newly restored clapper bridge and the incised boulder.
Sixteen years on, it is interesting to see how place-names evolve, very seldom do you now hear people talk about the, “old Manga clapper,” it is mostly referred to as, “Starkey’s Bridge,” or “Starkey’s clapper.”
As with any feature on Dartmoor it was not long before a letterbox was sited near to the memorial and to the best of my knowledge the stamp below was the first one to mark ‘Starkey’s Memorial’.
Harry Starkey was true Dartmoorphile who prolifically wrote and talked about his Dartmoor rambles. Originally, Starkey hailed from London but moved to Yorkshire and then to Lincolnshire in his early life. In later years he joined the Metropolitan Police Force where he reached the rank of Chief Superintendent, after serving for 31 years he retired to Devon where he lived at Haytor Vale.
Apart from his books, Starkey wrote many articles for the Dartmoor Magazine including describing many walks under the pen-name of ‘Nobbut’ which is said to come from his time in the police force, when “no but,” was a term he often used – sounds vaguely familiar today – “No but, yeah but, no but …”
Starkey was also a committee member of the Dartmoor Preservation Association and the Devonshire Association and belonged to both the Devon Archaeological Society and the Ramblers Association.
Harry Starkey died on the 20th of April 1989 he was 76 years of age, below is a bibliography of his published books and as mentioned he also wrote numerous articles for the Dartmoor Magazine and the Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries.
1980 – Exploring Dartmoor.
1981 – Exploring Dartmoor Again
1983 – Dartmoor Crosses and some Ancient Tracks.
1984 – Odds and Ends from Dartmoor.
1986 – Dartmoor – Then and Now.
1989 – Dartmoor Crosses and some Ancient Tracks – Revised.
For anybody who wants to learn about Dartmoor, these books are a delightful and informative source of information, written by a man who loved and knew the moors so well – sadly some of them are now out of print but are still to be found on the dusty shelves of many second-hand book shops.