Unsolved Murders

Kathleen Scanlan

Age: 58

Sex: female

Date: 28 Jan 1955

Place: Queensgate Junction, South Kensington

Kathleen Scanlan was knocked down by an unidentified vehicle.

After being knocked over she was taken to St Mary Abbots Hospital where she died from a fractured skull.

No one saw her actually get knocked over but several witnesses recalled seeing the events surrounding the incident.

A taxi driver said that at about the same time he had been in his taxi-cab approaching Queensgate Junction when he noticed a shooting brake coming towards him that was swaying. He said, 'I was driving in my taxi along Kensington Road. As I approached Queensgate Junction I saw parcels flying in the air and what I thought was a bag bouncing out of a shooting brake'. He also said 'A pile of parcels on top of the shooting-brake were flying in the air'. He added that he thought that it had been the shooting-brake that had been responsible for hitting Kathleen Scanlan 'as it was swaying about the road to avoid the woman. The driver must have seen the woman but he drove on at a fast speed'.

However, he said that he did not see Kathleen Scanlan knocked down. He added, 'I did not see where the woman came from. I did not actually see the shooting brake hit her'. He said that he stopped his taxi, but that as the shooting-brake did not stop that he drove on. He had said that he was sure that it was the shooting-brake that was responsible for knocking Kathleen Scanlan over.

Following the incident the police made a search for the shooting-brake but neither it nor the driver could be traced despite inquiries at local garages and a radio broadcast. However, at the inquest the police said that they did not think that there was any longer a chance of the vehicle that hit Kathleen Scanlan being traced unless the driver came forward voluntarily.

A builder that lived in Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill said that he had been crossing Kensington Road at about 5pm when he heard a crash. He said that he then saw a British Road Service heavy covered lorry that had just passed him turning a corner and then saw Kathleen Scanlan lying in the road. However, he said that the lorry did not stop.

However, two British Road Service lorry drivers were traced. The first lorry driver who it was thought that the builder was referring to and who lived in Fraser Street, Chiswick, said that he had been driving along Kensington Road at about the time the builder mentioned but that the first that he knew of Kathleen Scanlan being knocked down was when the other lorry driver who was also employed by British Road Services asked him if he knew anything about it. When the Coroner asked him at the inquest whether he was surprised to hear about the accident he said that he was.

He said that he then asked the other lorry driver what it was all about and said that he was told that a woman had been knocked down and that the other lorry driver then asked him whether he had heard a bang, to which he said that he didn't. When the Coroner asked him whether he felt a bump, he said that he didn't.

The other lorry driver who had lived in Highbury Mansions in Upper Street, Highbury said that he had been following the first lorry driver along Kensington Road and that he didn't notice anything unusual about the way that the first lorry driver had been driving. He said that he saw the first lorry driver turn right just after he heard a crash, noting that the lorry driver did not stop.

When the Coroner summed up he said, 'What it all really means is that Miss Scanlan was struck by a vehicle that has not been traced. Whether a shooting-brake was involved we do not know. Nobody saw the woman struck. There is now evidence to suggest that two lorry drivers were involved'.

The jury then returned an open verdict stating that Kathleen Scanlan came to her death in circumstances not fully disclosed by the evidence.

Kathleen Scanlan had been a housekeeper and had lived at Park Side in Westminster.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see West London Observer - Friday 28 January 1955

see West London Observer - Friday 14 January 1955