On the Eve of All Hallows’, 1951 a young Blackpool woman became the victim of a treacherously cruel act.
Blackpool has had its fair share of notorious women and by the early 50s sisters ‘Madge & Mary’ were well known to the local constabulary. They were working girls, demimondaines paid for their services.
Of Mary Holland I’m sure there are many tales to tell, but today we are interested in the fate of her sister Madge Leadbetter (aka Higginbottom).
After an albeit brief marriage to an American soldier Madge found herself once more walking the streets of Blackpool to make a living.
It was here she was befriended by Norman Mitchell, a miner working in Barnsley who was in the seaside town visiting his parents – it’s seems he was an unwelcome guest as his parents gave him his bus fare home and promptly went off to visit friends of their own!
Norman procured a client for Madge and as he had a key to his parents house on York Street (some reports say Oddfellows St.) he offered her the use of it to entertain the chap.
Upon hearing noises and noticing a light on, later that same evening, the neighbours alerted a patrolling police constable who tentatively entered the property only to discover Madge’s near naked body lying prone in the attic. She had been stabbed several times and had been strangled. Aged just 27 her life had been snuffed out.
In the early hours of the next morning Norman was spotted drunk and disorderly, wandering around the grounds of the local hospital in a distressed state. Upon his arrest he insisted he had returned to his family home only to discover Madge already dead.
At his trial Norman, who was also known as Tarzan in reference to his strong physique, admitted to arguing and struggling with Madge but claimed he only lashed out at her in self defence. He was by no means a smart man and was thought to have had the mental age of a nine year old.
The jury at his trial considered the self defence argument and found him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. He received a jail sentence of ten years.
Madge was laid to rest in Layton Cemetery, Blackpool, Lancashire. Her grave is unmarked.