Sons Vow To Carry On Father's Battle For Justice Following Asbestos Death

Industrial Illness Experts Appeal To Former Birmingham Council Workers To Come Forward


The sons of a former Birmingham City Council worker who died of an asbestos-related illness are appealing to his former colleagues for help as they vow to continue the battle for justice he launched before his death.

William Derek Williams, known by colleagues as Bill, Billy or Derek, died aged 77 in May 2012 after a year of battling mesothelioma, a cancer on the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust.

The widower, from Sutton Coldfield, left behind two sons, Huw and Glynne, who are now appealing for his former colleagues to get in touch backed by their asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

Bill worked for Birmingham City Council from 1960 to 1991, primarily based at the main depot at Montague Street, Digbeth. He was a vehicle bodybuilder; repairing and maintaining the council-owned vehicles but he also regularly helped with carpentry and joinery work. The depot at Montague Street had corrugated roof made from asbestos and the building itself had a network of asbestos lagged pipes.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Council brought in a programme of urban renewal and Bill was sent to work at depots in Tyseley and Sutton Coldfield which had been closed for demolition.

Both the Tyseley and Sutton Coldfield depots were constructed in the 1930’s and had asbestos roofs and networks of asbestos lagged pipes throughout the building. Bill had to go into the Council buildings that were being demolished to take out fixtures and fittings and anything else that the Council thought could be used again in other buildings.

This was a dusty job and it is believed brought Bill into contact with asbestos dust, which he could not avoid inhaling. He also visited the Perry Barr, Rotten Park and Lifford depots for the same purpose, which were being partially demolished during the urban renewal program.

Hayley Hill, is an expert asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing Bill’s family.

Expert Opinion
Before his death, Bill said working at all of these depots during the period of the demolition work was a very dusty environment to work in and he could not avoid getting the dust on his clothes.

“We now hope people who have any information concerning the working practices and presence of asbestos at the depots operated by Birmingham City Council, namely Tyseley, Sutton Coldfield, Perry Barr, Rotten Park and Lifford, during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s come forward to assist with our enquires and help the family gain justice.

“Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related disease for which there is sadly no cure. Companies have been well aware of the risks associated with exposing staff to asbestos since the 1950s, 60s and 70s so there is no excuse for workers not to have been protected.”
Hayley Hill, Associate

Bill’s son, Huw Williams, 51, a psychologist from North Birmingham, says: “My father was diagnosed with mesothelioma on 18 August 2011 following a biopsy. He sadly died on 19 May 2012. He began suffering symptoms as a result of the illness in around May 2011 when he became breathless.

“We have been informed that my father’s death was caused by asbestos exposure. This terrible illness took him so very quickly and he suffered greatly as a result. We mourn his passing greatly, particularly its terrible consequences and the high levels of anxiety, pain and suffering he endured with such fortitude.

“We now hope that any former Birmingham City Council employees who worked in any of the depots mentioned above between the late 1960s and early 1970s get in touch, as any information no matter how small could help. We’re determined to carry on Dad’s quest for justice and would be hugely grateful for any evidence that could help with this.”

Anyone able to help in this matter can contact Hayley Hill at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 214 5407 or email

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to mesothelioma claims.