Dead amongst the Dunes

Kathleen Elsie Breaks December 24th 1919

Even in death she was beautiful. But how did the ‘prettiest girl in Bradford’ end up dead among the sand dunes of Lytham, near Blackpool?

Imagine the excitement 25 year old Mrs Breaks (for she was in fact a married woman) must have felt as her train slowed to a stop at the platform of Blackpool Central station, for not only was it one of the most magical nights of the year (Christmas Eve) she was off for an assignation with her handsome and wealthy lover.

Frederick and Kathleen

After checking into the Palatine Hotel, Kathleen, who preferred to be known as Kitty, dined alone before styling her long brown hair, adding a slick of lipstick, then slipping on her coat in readiness to catch a tram to Lytham.

Waiting for Kitty on the coastal road was Frederick Holt, he had visited a local hostelry ‘The Fairhaven’ before heading to their rendezvous.

Fred Holt was a local man of independent means, the son of a respectable family, who had served Queen and country in the Great War as lieutenant in the North Lancashire Regiment.

Interestingly Holt had attempted to take out an insurance policy on Kitty’s life, but was rejected on the grounds of them not being married. This didn’t deter him and it’s believed he convinced Kitty to insure her own life naming Holt as the beneficiary.

The couple were spotted heading into the dunes by a tram driver on that fatal night, sadly though, Kitty was never seen alive again.

pathway through the dunes

On the cold and frosty Christmas morning of 1919 a most gruesome discovery was made by a man collecting driftwood. The body of an attractive and fashionable young lady lay prone on the sands, she had her bank book in her pocket so was easily identifiable.

The woman had been shot four times.

Identifying the murder posed no conundrum either as it was discovered Holt had left a glove, a revolver and distinctive footprints at the sand hills. A subsequent search of his home also revealed sand covered wet shoes, with a matching tread to the incriminating footprints found at the scene.

At his trial Fred appeared blasé about his crime. Huge crowds gathered at Manchester Assizes to hear his fate. Despite the fact Holt had tried to plead insanity the judge sentenced him to death by hanging.

An un-remorseful Holt went to the gallows at Strangeways on the 13th April 1920 and although he maintained his innocence his demeanor remained nonchalant.

declaration of execution

Legend has it Kitty Breaks was never able to rest, for around Yuletide on bitter winter nights the apparition of a beautiful, melancholic, weeping woman has been reportedly witnessed, wandering around the area where her lifeless body was discovered.

Published by Deborah Contessa

Dilettante Historian, Graveyard Detective, Folklore Geek & Paranormal Enthusiast.

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