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A History of Asbestos and the Holgate Road Carriageworks in York

The Carriageworks of Holgate Road is seen by many as a remnant of York’s industrial heritage. It was originally a factory for manufacturing railway carriages and began production in 1884, expanding over several years. 

The Carriageworks closed over a century later in 1996 with a lack of orders following the post-Privatisation of British Rail. Following this, Thrall Car Manufacturing Company built freight wagons on the site from 1998 to 2002. Many of the buildings in the area of the main works have since been demolished. Today, the history of the Victorian site has been replaced by the consequences of workers’ exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos was used for thermal and sound insulation at the Carriageworks. Asbestos was applied between inner and outer layers of carriage body frameworks, including flooring and radiators. From the 1950s, the beginning of the British Rail Modernisation Plan, blue asbestos was used. Workers initially did not use face masks or any kind of protection from asbestos.

Victims of Asbestos Exposure at the Carriageworks in York

The realisation of the effects of industrial diseases contracted at the Carriageworks in York began in the 1970s when a worker who had formerly laboured as an asbestos sprayer on carriages was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. An inquest revealed that the use of asbestos was terminated on the site in 1964. This has been disputed, however, with Carriageworks employees exposed to asbestos in the 1970s.

A large number of former York Carriageworks employees have tragically died in recent decades due to exposure to the asbestos dust at the Holgate Road factory. Reported victims worked in the Carriageworks over several decades from the 1950s. Even after the extreme health risks of asbestos were recognised, the Carriageworks on Holgate Road in York were still contaminated with asbestos in the 1990s.

The reported victims tragically extend beyond those employed at the Carriageworks in York, with relatives of the former workers affected by asbestos-related diseases due to asbestos dust carried from the industrial site in their hair and the fabric of their clothes.

There have been 141 reported victims of asbestos who were employed at the Carriageworks on Holgate Road in York. The total has recently continued to rise, with headlines of former workers diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Trade Unionist, Paul Cooper has contested the official figures released on asbestos-related deaths in York, stating that the cited deaths do not include those of victims treated outside York, and people whose mesothelioma went undetected by doctors.

Mesothelioma is an incurable lung disease caused by asbestos fibres. Symptoms include breathing difficulties and chest pains. The detection of asbestos poisoning is only possible after 10-20 years when the symptoms become apparent, making asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma a slow-ticking time bomb for those who may have been exposed to asbestos at the Carriageworks decades ago. The tragedy is that not all workers will be aware.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of Asbestos Compensation Solicitors that deal with Asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in Asbestos and Industrial Disease claims with offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby, and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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