Walk - Riviera Line - Torquay Station - Agatha Christie Mile
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Barton Road, Torquay on 15 September 1890. She spent much of her life in the area. Whilst her husband, Lt. Archie Christie was serving his country in France during the First World War, Agatha began working as a nurse for the Torquay Red Cross Hospital. She was later transferred to a dispensary where she acquired her knowledge of poisons. She used this knowledge in many of her novels including, in 1920, her first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
- The walk starts at Torquay Station.
In 1990, the Orient Express brought Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot (in the guise of Joan Hickson and David Suchet) face to face on Torquay Station’s platform. In her books Agatha Christie never allowed the two to meet.
Leaving the railway station turn right towards the sea.
Immediately on your right is the Grand Hotel, where on Christmas Eve 1914, Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon night with Archie Christie. 2 days later they travelled to London where he left for the war in France. The Agatha Christie Suite is still available to guests.
Cross Rathbone Road and follow the pavement around the landward side of the seafront road heading towards Torquay.
- Almost immediately turn left along King’s Drive. Continue along the road to Torre Abbey.
Torre Abbey, Torquay’s oldest building dating back to 1196, is the home of the Agatha Christie’s Potent Plants collection which was inspired by the poisons and potions in many of her books. In the Memorial Room can be found her favourite armchair, her 1937 Remington portable typewriter and a notebook containing her manuscript for A Caribbean Mystery.
- Retrace your steps and turn left into Abbey park. Follow the path through the park down to the seafront. Cross the road at the traffic lights on the seaward side.
- Follow the wide promenade around the bay. Pass through the Princess Gardens with its Theatre and Pier.
The Princess Pier was a favourite spot for the young Agatha’s love of roller-skating. It was built in the same year she was born. From here a ferry can be taken to the National trust owned, Greenway House, her home on the bank of the River Dart from 1938 until her death in 1976. The Princess Gardens were opened in 1894, built to a classic Victorian design incorporating fountains, flower beds, ornamental shelters and palm trees imported from New Zealand. The Gardens featured in ‘The ABC Murders’.
- Keeping close to the marina, make your way towards the harbour. Turn right at the inner harbour and cross the Millennium footbridge.
The bridge, completed in 2003, imitates the sails of a ship and looks most impressive when lit up at night. A Cill wall allows the water to always be retained at half tide. 2 hydraulic gates within the wall can be opened at particular times to allow boat traffic through the 11.6 metre entrance.
Turn right at the end of the quay and go up Beacon Hill, keeping the Living Coasts Attraction and Beacon Cove on your right. On your left is the Royal Torbay yacht Club
Agatha Christie’s father Frederick Miller was a prominent member of the Yacht club. He would visit daily to play cards and socialise except in the cricket season. Then, as president, he would re-direct his time to Torquay Cricket Club.
Beacon Cove, which could be seen from the Yacht Club, was known as the Ladies Bathing Cove. Agatha, in her teenage years, had to be rescued by a local boatman after she got into difficulties whilst swimming here.
- At the top of Beacon Hill is the Imperial Hotel.
The Imperial Hotel, built in 1866, masqueraded as the “Majestic” in “Peril at End House”. Its terrace also appeared in “Sleeping Murder”. Agatha Christie attended many social events here. The hotel still retains the grandeur and elegance associated with the Agatha Christie era.
Retrace your steps down Beacon Hill and follow the road around the east side of the harbour.
- At the roundabout turn right and walk up Torwood Street to Torquay Museum.
Torquay Museum is Devon’s oldest museum and is home to the unique Agatha Christie Gallery. This was created, in 1990, with the help of the Christie family. They loaned exhibits such as original manuscripts, TV and film memorabilia as well as a large number of previously unseen photos of Agatha.
After your visit retrace your steps downhill to the roundabout and follow the harbour round past the old Pavilion Theatre to the marina.
The world’s only bronze bust of Agatha Christie can be found near the front of the old pavilion theatre. It was created in 1990 by the Dutch sculptor Carol Van Den Boom-Cairns to commemorate her Centenary Year. After attending a Wagner concert at the Pavilion Theatre Archie Christie proposed to the young Agatha Miller.
- From here retrace your steps along the seafront to Torquay station.
There are a number of restaurants, pubs and cafes in Torquay, particularly around the harbour.