Family Launches Battle For Justice After Essex Man Dies From Asbestos-Related Disease

Asbestos Disease Expert Asks Former Workers To Get In Touch


The devastated family of a former Essex carpenter who died of an asbestos-related disease has launched an emotional appeal to gain justice for him by asking his former colleagues to come forward with vital information.

John Hammond, 73, battled with breathing problems for many years. He suffered from pleural thickening and asbestosis, a lung disease caused by exposure to lethal asbestos fibres, which took his life on 17th February 2012.

His death has left his wife of 49 years Sylvia, three daughters and two grandsons distraught and desperate for justice.

The grandfather-of-two was exposed to the deadly dust when working for West Thurrock-based Tunnel Portland Cement Company Ltd from about 1962 to 1966 and from 1969 to 1975, by which time it was called Tunnel Cement Limited. There was a Tunnel Asbestos factory on the site which manufactured asbestos products. A railroad went through the site and locomotives pulled trucks of asbestos powder along it. John’s job involved working by the side of the railway.

Now, with the help of specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, the Hammond family is searching for former work colleagues who may be able to provide additional information as to how he came into contact with the harmful material.

Alice Humphreys, an expert asbestos disease lawyer from the London office of Irwin Mitchell, said: “The Tunnel Asbestos factory made asbestos sheeting, asbestos guttering and asbestos pipes. Once made, these asbestos products were stacked outside in the yard. John worked all over the site. He often worked outside as his job involved carrying out maintenance to the buildings as well as the locomotives themselves.

“When John worked there, employers were well aware of the dangers asbestos can pose so there is no excuse for them not providing protective clothing or warning employees of the risks.”

John was born in South Ockendon, but in 1969 moved to Blackshots Lane in Grays near Thurrock where he and his wife, Sylvia, raised a family and spent most of their lives until 2007 when the couple moved to Clacton-on-Sea to enjoy their retirement together.

He was a keen musician and had been a member of Grays Town, Aveley, Ockendon, Tilbury and Ipswich brass bands until ill health forced him to give up his passion for playing the baritone horn. In a moving tribute to their former band-mate, the Ipswich Band gathered to play at John’s funeral.

Commenting on her father’s death, Nicola Bishop said: “The whole family has been devastated by what happened to Dad and Mum is really struggling to cope without him by her side.

“Dad was such a good, family oriented man. He worked hard all his life and although we never had a lot of money he always put Mum and us first. He loved his gardening and I remember he would often grow a lot of vegetables to help make ends meet.

“Sadly, all those years he had spent working hard and looking forward to a long retirement were marred by constant visits to the doctors when his breathing became worse and his health deteriorated.

“By the autumn of 2011 he had become so poorly that he was admitted to hospital. He went back into hospital in December 2011 and was diagnosed as suffering from pneumonia.

“It was only following the post mortem that we discovered his death was due to asbestosis.”

Alice Humphreys added: “In order to help Nicola and her family fight for justice, we are keen to hear from workers from Tunnel Portland Cement Company Ltd, Tunnel Cement Limited or Tunnel Asbestos, who may be able to provide us with additional detail about how John was exposed to the lethal asbestos fibres which claimed his life. We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who worked there between 1962 and 1975.”

Anyone who can help with any information is asked to contact Alice Humphreys at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email