Did you work at Hanley Boots store in the late 1950s?
The family of a Stoke woman who died of asbestos-related cancer, are appealing for anyone who remembers working at the Hanley Boots store in the late 1950s.
Posted on 08 April 2021
Anne Lawton died in February 2021, following her diagnosis with mesothelioma in summer, 2019.
The Cheadle grandmother of four was only able to connect her diagnosis with her work at Boots Pure Drug Co Ltd in Upper Market Square, Hanley, as a 15-year-old school-leaver when the building was undergoing a complete refurbishment.
Anne remembered she was one of nine new recruits who had been taken on as assistants at the Victorian-style store but for the first year were all put to work helping to keep the building free from dust during the extensive modernisation.
New concrete floors had been laid when Anne started work in September, 1957. From that date until November, 1958, she remembered shop fitters building shelves, displays, installing electrical fittings and suspended ceilings. She said the shopfitters worked night and day.
“During the refit, the store was incredibly dusty. I was one of many shop assistants told to help out with keeping the store clean. I was given a broom and told to sweep the floors a couple of times a day. Every floor was dusty, including the locker room, which was next to where a suspended ceiling was being fitted. I remember seeing dust on the floor, which we all kicked up as we moved about.
“The storerooms all had concrete floors and the dust showed up visibly on them. There was a stairwell between the floors, so any dust from other areas floated down and settled on the storeroom floors. I remember having to sweep the storerooms at least twice a day. I had dust all over my clothes when I did this. It was not quite what I had in mind when I joined Boots as a Shop Assistant!”
When Anne eventually started her job as a shop assistant proper in the books department, her work often involved going into the basement for deliveries, where she remembered grey-lagged pipes and a dusty environment.
Leigh Day solicitors, who are representing Anne’s family, want to trace any former workers at Boots who can give evidence about asbestos in the store.
Solicitor Ewan Tant said:
“In particular we want to trace any workers who worked on the re-fit of the store in 1957 and 1958 and employees who worked in the basement, possibly even workmen who may have carried out maintenance.”
If you, or anyone who know, is able to help with the appeal, contact Leigh Day solicitors on 0207 650 1357