The Road to Scarborough
Falsgrave Walk - entering Scarborough (1840)
A watercolour by Paul Braddon - 1840.
This was the main Seamer/York road as it entered Scarborough (from the south-west) - the road Anne used when travelling to and from Scarborough on her five, annual visits with the Robinson family. The road is shown here in 1840 - the year she made her first visit to the resort. In the concluding chapters of her novel, Agnes Grey, Anne located the school, where Agnes and her mother lived and taught, on this stretch of road. In the centre of the picture, on the hill, can be seen the castle, and behind the buildings on the right is the tower of Christ Church. This was where Anne worshipped with the Robinsons and ultimately where her funeral was conducted. About six hundred yards beyond and to the right of the church (not visible here!) is Wood's Lodgings - where Anne stayed on all her visits to Scarborough. Immediately beyond this - below the cliff, is the South Sands where she loved to walk beside the sea; and this beach became the setting for the penultimate chapter ('The Sands') of Agnes Grey. A few hundred yards behind and to the right of the artist is the site where, five years later, the York/Scarborough railway station was erected (see below). Anne travelled to Scarborough by train on her final visit with her sister Charlotte and friend Ellen Nussey in May 1849: she did not make the return journey, but died three days after her arrival.

In Anne's day, this section of road was called Falsgrave Walk: today it is named Westborough, and the area behind the railings on the left is Alma Square.

Falsgrave Walk (c. mid-1800s)

This is the same view sketched several years later. A surprising number of changes have taken place, including the appearance of street lamps, and 'The Bar' (the archway seen a few hundred yards down the road) which was built in 1843. It is interesting to note how the houses on the right bear some resemblance to those which Agnes Grey's school occupied in Anne's novel:

'Our school was not situated in the heart of the town: on entering A----- [Scarborough] . . . there is a row of respectable looking houses . . . with narrow slips of garden-ground before them, Venetian blinds to the windows, and a flight of steps leading to each trim, brass-handled door. In one of the largest of these habitations dwelt my mother and I, with such young ladies as our friends and the public chose to commit to our charge. Consequently, we were a considerable distance from the sea, and divided from it by a labyrinth of streets and houses.'
. . . Agnes Grey.

Scarborough Railway Sation and Westborough (formerly Falsgrave Walk) (c.1900)

The same view yet again - but this time sketched from about 400 yards further back, and at a much later date - around the turn of the century. On the right is the Scarborough Railway Station, and, once again - the castle is visible on the distant left. It was at this station, in the early afternoon1n of Friday, 25th May 1849, that Anne, Charlotte, and Ellen Nussey arrived on the ill-fated visit.

There is much misconception about which members of the Brontë family visited Scarborough: here is the situation: Anne visited at least four, though, more likely five times with the Robinson family, followed, some five years later, by her final, dying visit with Charlotte and their friend Ellen Nussey. The latter occasion was Charlotte's first visit to the resort, and she only returned once - three years later, to visit Anne's grave. Branwell was at Scarborough on two occasions - when he accompanied Anne and the Robinson family. Emily was planning to accompany Anne on a short visit in the summer of 1845, but the venue was changed to York: there is no indication that Emily, or their father, Patrick, ever visited Scarborough at all.

  Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage
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