William and Kate visit Blackpool housing project on road with grisly past

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited a housing project where the grisly murder of a 16-year-old girl took place more than six years ago.

During a tour of Blackpool, William and Kate visited Kirby Road, where a local authority-owned housing company has bought several dilapidated properties and transformed them into modern homes and apartments to rent.

One of the properties visited used to be known as the Grafton House Hotel, where barman David Minto, then 23, lured 16-year-old Sasha Marsden to her death in January 2013 on the false promise of a job.

Instead, he stabbed her 58 times inside the hotel in an attack described in court as “sexually motivated”.

Minto, who was jailed for life, dumped Sasha’s body, wrapped in a bin liner and carpet underlay, in an alleyway near the hotel.

The injuries of the childcare student, from Staining, near Blackpool, were so severe she had to be identified by DNA from her toothbrush.

William and Kate came to the Lancashire resort to see some of the health and social problems facing the town.

They started their day at Blackpool Tower, where they were greeted at the landmark amid downpours with cheers from a crowd of several hundred well-wishers gathered outside on the promenade.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Blackpool Tower
The pair visited Blackpool Tower (Danny Lawson/PA)

Kate was dressed in an olive green coat by Sportsmax and a Michael Kors dress for the away day.

Once inside the historic tower, Kate and William briefly stopped at a giant mirror unveiled by the Princess of Wales in July 1992 to mark the opening of Tower World, with the duke describing it as “fantastic” and “amazing”.

The couple were then treated to a brief glimpse of the world-famous Tower Ballroom, which is open to the public daily.

From their balcony view, they watched dancers go through their strides in a waltz to I Shall See You Later, played on the Wurlitzer by Chris Hopkins.

During a round table meeting on the investment and regeneration efforts that are currently under way, William addressed the challenges facing the town.

Speaking about its history, he described how it was “once a jewel in the crown of the British tourism industry” before people began to travel further afield for their holidays and it faced economic decline and unemployment.

“Dispiritingly, those challenges are felt very strongly today and they are more pressing than ever.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave after a visit to Kirby Road in Blackpool
Kate wore an olive green coat by Sportsmax and a Michael Kors dress (Peter Byrne/PA)

He spoke of high unemployment rates and social problems, but also highlighted the positive moves, regeneration and “brilliant schemes”, including a new enterprise zone and “exciting new investment in Blackpool’s iconic tourist attractions” and innovative housing projects.

William added: “The story of Blackpool is a complex one of a proud history, of testing times and newfound optimism for the future.”

On a walkabout outside the Tower as they visited the Comedy Carpet on the promenade, Kate told well-wishers she hoped to bring her children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis to visit Blackpool next time.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet young people on the Comedy Carpet on the promenade at Blackpool
The royal couple on the Comedy Carpet (Charlotte Graham/The Daily Telegraph/PA)

She joked: “Is the weather always like this?”

The duchess expressed her disappointment at not going up the Tower.

“No we didn’t. Next time I think. There’s so much here the children would love as well. Hopefully next time we’ll bring them back.”

As one little girl shouted “Hello princess”, Kate waved and smiled.

Children from Happy Tots nursery in North Shore, Blackpool, welcomed them with gifts of Blackpool rock and posies of flowers.

William said his children would appreciate the rock.

When he asked them what flavour the rock was, the youngsters replied: “Blackpool.”