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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 14:57 UK
Greenway success is no mystery
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Greenway House
Greenway House - the home of Agatha Christie at Galmpton

Thirty-three years after her death, Torquay-born crime-writer Agatha Christie is still proving to be a massive draw.

The so-called Queen of Crime's home in Galmpton opened to the public for the first time in the summer of 2009.

Locals and visitors alike made the most of the opportunity to catch a glimpse into Christie's world.

The trust's property manager at Greenway, Robyn Brown, said the first summer has been a huge success.

The National Trust was initially gifted the gardens at Greenway House by Dame Agatha's daughter, Rosalind Hicks and her husband Anthony Hicks.

The gardens were opened to the public in 2000 and have been busy with visitors every summer.

Following the deaths of Anthony and Rosalind Hicks in 2004 and 2005, the house and its contents were also gifted to the trust.

Agatha Christie (National Trust)
Agatha Christie at home at Greenway House

A £5 million renovation of the imposing but crumbling building was needed, before the house finally opened its doors to the public in time for the 2009 season.

"We've been really very busy," said Robyn. "In fact, much more so than we had anticipated.

"And I have to say that people have been absolutely delighted about their visit to the house.

"People are just loving the place.

"There are no ropes or barriers so it's not like a museum - you really get the sense that it's still a family home."

The downstairs rooms include the library, dining room and sitting room, where Agatha Christie would read her latest novel to her family in order to hear their feedback.

Upstairs, the public can also see the bedrooms.

The interpretation areas include audio of Agatha Christie's voice.

Robyn Brown
Property manager Robyn Brown in Greenway's library

"Just the name, Agatha Christie, raises people's attention," said Robyn. "But the National Trust has 3.5 million members nationally and some of them have been down because they want to see Greenway, so the property has its own attraction.

"It's a magical place."

Greenway is located in an idyllic spot, overlooking the River Dart.

There is only one narrow road to the house, and it goes through the village of Galmpton.

The trust carefully controls the number of visitors arriving by car, by insisting they book ahead at least a couple of days in advance - if you drive in without a booking you are likely to be turned away.

"We have to be good neighbours," said Robyn.

"We had some early concerns about traffic but we've put signs out and it has largely settled down. And many people arrive via the Greenway Ferry - 60% of our visitors come by green transport."

The 2009 season ends on 25 October. Greenway opens again on 3 March, 2010. Visit the trust's Greenway website for more details.



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