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Former Railwayman and Machinist Appeals to Ex-Colleagues to Help Investigation

Retired worker suffering from asbestosis looks for answers about his asbestos exposure at work.

A former railwayman and machinist struggling to deal with the effects of asbestosis is appealing to his ex-colleagues to help expert lawyers investigate where he was exposed to the harmful dust.

Peter Rich of Rawthorpe, Huddersfield, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis several years ago but it was not until recently that he realised his condition could be caused by past asbestos exposure.

Peter believes that he came into contact with asbestos while working for British Rail, being based at their Hill House Locomotive Depot in Huddersfield, for David Brown’s Tractors Limited and for Coastal Limited, formerly at Red Doors Lane, Huddersfield.

The 78 year old has now instructed specialist asbestos and mesothelioma compensation lawyers at Hodge Jones & Allen who are hoping his ex-workmates can help piece together where he was exposed to asbestos and whether more could have been done to protect him.

Peter worked for British Rail at Hill House Locomotive Department, Huddersfield between 1953 – 55 and 1957 – 63. He was initially employed as a cleaner, then a pass cleaner before qualifying as a fireman. Peter’s job was to help prepare locomotives and then to stay on the footplate, shovelling coal into the fire and checking pressure gauges during trips around the north of England. There was lagging inside the cab and on steam pipes on the footplate which Peter believes was made of asbestos.

Having been made redundant following the closure of the depot in September 1963, Peter joined David Brown’s Tractors Limited at their factory near Huddersfield where he was a machinist, turning metal on a lathe to make components for tractor engines. He believes the company used asbestos brake linings manufactured by British Belting & Asbestos Company Limited in Cleckheaton. He also recalls asbestos-lagged pipes around the factory and believes that he may have come into contact with asbestos dust there.

In 1986, Peter went to work at Coastal Limited, a company based in Poole, Dorset, but who had a factory on Red Doors Lane, Huddersfield where uPVC windows and doors were manufactured. Peter’s job was to sand down welds on the units being assembled, using a sanding machine. He recalls the environment being extremely dusty and remembers there being pipes running through the factory, which looked like as if they were lagged with asbestos. Peter retired from that job in 2002, aged 65.

Peter first began to experience shortness of breath while still employed by Coastal Limited. He was subsequently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, though was not told what could have caused his illness. His condition has gradually deteriorated so that he is now dependant on oxygen 24 hours a day and is extremely ill.

Peter said: “It was not until I read a piece in a newspaper recently, that I made the connection between my condition and the dust I inhaled at work. None of my treating doctors have found another explanation for this condition.

My breathing has got gradually worse and I have lost quite a lot of weight. Initially, I was able to use portable oxygen and go out but I now need it full time and have to be pushed around in a wheelchair by my wife, Maureen, or by our children or grandchildren.

I was fit as a fiddle until around 15 years ago and enjoyed playing football into my forties. Unfortunately, my illness has gradually become more and more disabling.

I just hope my ex-workmates can help my legal team to investigate where I was exposed to asbestos dust, so as I can get the answers I need.”

Isobel Lovett, an asbestos and mesothelioma compensation expert at Hodge Jones & Allen in London is representing Peter said: “Pulmonary fibrosis can be a severely debilitating illness and can be caused by significant exposure to asbestos dust. Unfortunately, it would appear that Peter worked in environments where he was regularly exposed to asbestos and other dust.

Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of exposure to asbestos and other dusts, in spite of knowing how dangerous that was for workers. It is only right that people such as Peter, affected by exposure to asbestos and other dusts through no fault of their own, are entitled to seek justice from their former employers.

We hope to speak to as many of Peter’s ex-colleagues as possible, so that we can piece together exactly where he was exposed to asbestos and identify where more should have been done by his employers to protect him from its harmful effects.”

Anyone who has information which could assist should contact Isobel Lovett at Hodge Jones & Allen on 020 7874 8502 or email: on

28 August 2015 – since our call for information Peter Rich has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.