Retired Coal Worker Appeals To Former Workmates After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyers Investigating Asbestos Exposure


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

A retired Bishop Auckland coal worker is appealing to his former workmates for help after he instructed expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his asbestos exposure which caused him to develop mesothelioma, a terminal cancer.


Thomas Rodham, 84, a grandfather-of-ten from St John’s Chapel, Bishop Auckland was diagnosed with mesothelioma, in April 2016, after suffering with shortness of breath and chest pains. He believes he may have been exposed to asbestos during his almost 40 years in the coal industry.


He told his legal team at Irwin Mitchell that he worked at a number of collieries across the north-east during his employment with the National Coal Board from 1952 until 1979.


He recalls working at the Morrison Colliery, Hobson Colliery, Byemoor Colliery, Addison Colliery, Greenside Colliery, Shiney Row Colliery, Goldthorpe Colliery and Highgate Colliery during his employment and believes he was exposed to asbestos while working at the Greenside Colliery.


Thomas, a great-grandfather-of-one, told his legal team that he and his workmates would shower at the Greenside Colliery pit baths before and after work. He recalled that the pipework in the baths were lined with asbestos and during his time there maintenance and repair work was carried out on the pipework.


He said no precautions were taken to protect employees from the asbestos dust and fibres releases into the atmosphere during this maintenance work and hat those using the showers were exposed to the dust.


Thomas also recalled during his time at the Goldthorpe Colliery in Doncaster that repairs were carried out on the roofs of the office buildings, where he spent his working day. He said the roofs were made of asbestos sheeting and that these would be cut up and replaced while employees remained in the office area.


After leaving the National Coal Board in 1979, Thomas joined Crookall Coal Company, which became known as R & A Young Company Limited, where he worked until his retirement in 1991.


He was employed at the manager of the Crookall Drift Mine and another pit at Eshwinning. He recalls the haulage equipment to remove material out of the mines was controlled in the haulage hut. He said braking equipment in the hut would release asbestos dust into the working environment.


Now Thomas is appealing to anyone who worked with him at the collieries during his time with the National Coal Board and Crookall Coal Company/R & A Young Company Limited to come forward and provide information on the presence of asbestos to his legal team at Irwin Mitchell who are investigating the exposure that caused him to develop mesothelioma.


Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said:


Expert Opinion
“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos decades ago.

“We have now begun investigating Thomas’ exposure to asbestos while working for the National Coal Board and Crookall Coal Company in the hope of providing him with some of the answers he wants about what could and should have been done to protect him from the deadly substance.

“We are now appealing to his former colleagues to come forward with any information they may have, no matter how small, on the presence of asbestos at the sites, the warning provided to workers about the dangers of asbestos and the safety measures, if any, in place to protect staff members from asbestos exposure.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner


Thomas, who has been married to his wife Eva for 61 years, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and told what it is caused by. My mind immediately went back to my employment in the coal industry and I’m desperate for answers about why more wasn’t done to protect me and my colleagues.


“The disease has had a huge impact on my life and I’m very concerned about what the future holds for myself and Eva as my condition worsens and my health deteriorates.


“Hopefully, those who remember working with me at the collieries and pits across the north-east will come forward and help me get justice.”


Anyone with information on working conditions at the National Coal Board and Crookall Coal Company, which became known as R & A Young Company Limited should contact Katie Faulds on 0191 279 0142 or email