Our sectors

We treat all personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.

Asbestos claims in the North East of England

“The North East of England has one of the highest number of deaths from asbestos related disease in the UK.”
The North East has a proud heritage of shipbuilding. The rivers Blyth, Tyne, Wear and Tees were home to a thriving shipbuilding industry. Sources suggest that at the start of the 20th century, half of the world's ships were being made in the North East of England. 

Shipyards in the area employed generations of families and generated significant wealth for the region. However, the shipbuilding industry also left a terrible legacy of asbestos related diseases.

The extensive use of asbestos in the shipyards in the North East means that sadly, it has been reported that the North East of England has one of the highest number of deaths from asbestos related disease in the UK. 

The extensive use of asbestos in industry, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, means that many other tradesmen were exposed and have gone on to suffer from asbestos diseases; laggers, engineers and plumbers often came across asbestos lagging round pipes and boilers, carpenters often used asbestos boards as insulation and for ceiling tiles, and electricians often encountered asbestos materials insulating against fire risks.

If you or a loved one worked in the shipyards or other industries in the region and believe you were exposed to asbestos that led to developing a related disease, you may be eligible for compensation. 

Ready to talk? Speak to one of our specialist team about your asbestos claim in the North East. Call 01919339104 or 


Shipyards and shipbuilding

Asbestos was used extensively in the shipyards and in shipbuilding across the North East because of its heat resistant properties. It was used throughout the ships – including in the boiler rooms, engine rooms and sleeping quarters. Asbestos lagging was installed to cover the miles of pipework that were present in the ships. 

Workers were exposed to asbestos when loading and unloading cargo, in the construction of the ships and when carrying out repairs. When asbestos materials are disturbed, dust and fibres are released into the air and inhaled. This can lead to serious asbestos related diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. 

Brian’s story

Brian Laydon worked as a shipwright for John Redhead & Sons Limited in South Shields from 1950 until 1955. He left to work as an armament technician in the RAF, but returned to John Redhead & Sons Limited in 1957 and worked there until the shipyard closed in 1985. 

In December 2017, Brian started to suffer with breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2018. He believed this was caused by asbestos exposure when converting steam ships to oil and diesel ships in the 1950s – which involved removing asbestos lagging from the pipework. He did not recall being given warnings or respiratory protection against asbestos. 

Leigh Day represented Brian and secured a six-figure settlement from John Redhead & Sons Limited. Sadly, Brian passed away in 2018 a month after the case was settled. 

Other sources

Workers in the North East were also exposed to asbestos in other industries. Some of the most commonly exposed occupations included:
  • Laggers
  • Engineers
  • Shipwrights
  • Joiners
  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Boilermakers
  • Labourers  
  • Dockworkers
  • Fitters
  • Welders
  • Painters
  • Electricians 
  • Ceiling fitters

Derek’s story

Derek Walsh worked for A V Ogden & Sons, of Otley, Leeds. During his time working for the firm, he was involved in demolishing the Co-op at Ryhope in Sunderland – the biggest Co-op in England at the time. He claimed he worked next to men removing asbestos lagging from the pipework and ceilings, with no mask or warning of the dangers.

In the 1980s, he also worked for Brown & Mason Limited as an asbestos stripper. While he was provided with a mask in a tented environment, it didn’t fit correctly, which allowed him to inhale asbestos dust. 

Derek experienced breathing problems in 2017 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. At Leigh Day, we helped him pursue a claim and secure a six-figure settlement after liability was admitted by both companies. Part of the agreement included for Derek to seek the cost of non-NHS funded treatment – such as immunotherapy treatment.  

Why choose Leigh Day?

Leigh Day have acted for many people who were exposed to asbestos in the North East of England. This includes obtaining compensation for former shipwrights and others who worked in the region and suffered asbestos exposure in previous decades. 

Our specialist team of asbestos solicitors will listen to your case and advise you on the steps which need to be taken to pursue a legal case. . We act with care, compassion and clarity to help you understand the process with ease. 

Leigh Day has been proud to support READLEY Asbestos & Mesothelioma Support Group since it was established in 2015.  The group provides a vital service in the north east with a number of support group meetings offering assistance and advice on issues relating to asbestos disease.  Visit READLEY’s website.


Contact Leigh Day

Speak to one of our specialist personal injury solicitors about your asbestos claim in the North East.  

Share this page: Print this page

Let us call you back at a convenient time

We treat all personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.