Haunted Blackpool – Lytham Dunes and Lonely Kitty Breaks

Today we take a look at the tragic story of Kitty Breaks who was murdered by her lover on the dunes in Lytham.

The Relationship

In 1919, Kitty Breaks, aged 25 years old was in a relationship with a man named Frederic Rothwell Holt.  Holt was wealthy by inheritance as his mother had left him the handsome sum of £500 annually.  Whilst this doesn’t sound like a lot in today’s economy, back then, you’d be lucky if you earned £140 a year as a standard labourer.  Holt was at an even greater advantage financially, as he lived with his father and stepmother with no bills to pay.

Holt had plenty of friends and was known to frequent the dance halls, where he loved jazz as well as being a big sports fan.

Holt’s girlfriend Kitty was beautiful.  She had moved to the area from Bradford, where she had been described as “the prettiest girl in Bradford”.  She had been married for a short time at the age of just 18, but her marriage had broken down early on.  Although she was living in a rural part of Bradford for part of the time, the rest of the time, she’d spend with her handsome and wealthy boyfriend Frederick in Lytham.

Before he had met Kitty, it was expected that Frederick would end up marrying a wealthy girl from Blackpool, possibly the daughter of one of the entrepreneurs in the town.

The Events of That Night

On December 23rd 1919, it was reported that Kitty left Bradford with Frederick to travel back with him to Lytham.  


Kitty went to the Palatine Hotel where she had a meal.

At the same time, Frederick was close to his home, enjoying an alcoholic drink at the Fairhaven.


After taking the tram, Frederick arrived at the Manchester Home.


Kitty left the Palatine Hotel, but before she did, she asked about the times that the tram traveled to Lytham.  She arrived at the Manchester Home shortly after.  

On the Western Side of Clifton Drive is where The Manchester Home is located.  Whilst a lot of the building is now residential apartments, the main structure of the building still stands.  Located between Lytham and Blackpool, it’s not hard to imagine what a desolate place this area must have been in the winter months of 1919.

It would seem that the sand dunes have always had something of a reputation.  The tram stop that Kitty and Frederick will have used is now a bus stop and close to The Manchester Home is a path through the sand dunes.  Beside the bus stop, people are advised to behave appropriately by way of a sign.


A tram driver claimed to have seen Frederick.

The Discovery

In the early hours of Christmas Eve morning, the body of the young Kitty Breaks was found by a man who was collecting drift wood.  It was apparent that she had been shot 4 times.  She had a number of letters from Frederick with her.

At lunchtime on Christmas Eve, Frederick was arrested at the Clifton Hotel, Lytham.  It is said that he asked the policeman if he could finish his morning coffee before he was arrested.

On later examination, blood spatters were found on Frederick’s coat.

The Trial

Throughout his trial and indeed until he was executed, Frederick had a blase demeanor and didn’t seem to care about the seriousness of his crime and showed no remorse.

Whilst Kitty appeared to have kept many of Frederick’s passionate love letters, it would seem that Kitty had plenty of other admirers.  Maybe it was jealousy that caused Frederick to commit this crime of passion against the beautiful woman he loved.  Maybe Frederick had a darker motive for the crime.  It was discovered that Kitty’s life was insured for £5000 and that Frederick was the beneficiary of this amount in the event of Kitty’s death.

It was not difficult to bring a case against Holt as his revolver and gloves were found at the sand dunes.  If you’re going to try to commit murder, it’s not a great idea to leave behind your own gloves and certainly don’t leave the smoking gun!  In addition, footprints at the scene matched Frederick’s own boots.  A record of the sale of the revolver allowed the purchase to be traced back to Holt too.

The defense barrister obviously had a hard job on his hands in the light of such damning evidence.  It also didn’t help that Frederick had such a weak alibi.  His father claimed that his son had been home the entire night.  Frederick instead said he’d been for a long walk after leaving The Fairhaven and then gone home.  In contrast, the evidence found at the scene, the tram driver who had seen Holt, a page in Kitty’s own diary with directions to get to the Manchester Home along with the insurance policy and Kitty’s will, there was very little that the defense could have done to win the case for their client.

Instead, the barrister attempted to reduce the punishment for Holt by claiming that his client should plead insanity.  It seemed that this may actually work as Frederick didn’t seem to care much about his predicament, and there was also a history of mental illness that ran in his family.  Two doctors even backed up the insanity defense.  Despite the doctor’s opinions on his condition, the jury decided that Holt was indeed fit to plead.

Holt was sentenced to death by hanging.  It is reported that the judge was in tears whilst handing out the sentence despite the reputation for most people in those days to show little sympathy for criminals. Frederick on the other hand didn’t seem to care and was reading a newspaper during his own trial. 

Wooden crosses were left at the location where Kitty’s body had been found, and for some time, the site was an area of interest for tourists.

Kitty’s Ghost

The full body apparition of a young woman has been seen many times on the dunes in Lytham.  It is thought to be Kitty weeping.  She has also been seen running through the dunes, possibly trying to escape her killer or maybe she’s looking for her lover and doesn’t realise she’s dead.


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