Living With Mesothelioma -My Diary –History-of-asbestos-in-chatham-dockyard

I couldn’t think why I had a sore throat yesterday and today it has dawned on me. I had the flu jab  didn’t I.

Oh dear poor me, sneezing and blowing today, not happy.

I have had a lot of emails inviting me to Conferences etc etc. I have been filling my diary up.

One that did please us was the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Related Lung Cancer Study Day as its in the Chatham Dockyard. We feel we have gone full circle as this is where ray worked and where we came in contact with asbestos.

Then I had a invite from the Local Lions friends  who will donate the profit from their November Fashion Show to Mesothelioma UK. The Fashion Show will be at the Seasalter Christian Centre on Wednesday, 26 November so I have accepted that invitation as well.

I did have the date for my next Scan  31st October. They come round so quickly ekkkk !!!!!!

There is a Solicitors meeting in Chatham Dockyard Tuesday 14th October between 2.00pm – 5.00pm at the Royal Engineers Museum, Field Marshals’ Room, Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham, ME4 4UG

We ought to pop along as Ray might find some old work mates.—–

We have just found reading the history so helpful.

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the closure of the Chatham dockyard and naval base. It is also of course the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, in which Chatham dockyards played a significant role. On 22 September a ceremony at Chatham dockyard will remember the tragic events 100 years earlier when 1,459 men (most of them from Chatham Port Division) lost their lives when three Royal Navy cruisers were sunk. Those sailors from Chatham Port Division were certainly not the last whose association with the site would prove fatal. Although Chatham dockyards now acts as a popular tourist attraction, its longer legacy may regrettably be one that had not been anticipated; it remains one of the top employers responsible for asbestos related deaths, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

In 1567 Queen Elizabeth I appointed Chatham (then known as “Jillingham waters”) one of her royal dockyards. In 1613 the dockyard site was moved downstream to the present location. Ever since Chatham dockyards had played a key part in British naval history, building over 400 ships and repairing and refitting thousands more. The best known is HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar. At one time Chatham dockyards employed over 10,000. In the 20th century the Royal Navy embraced the submarine as its new weapon of war. During World War I 12 submarines were built at Chatham dockyards. During World War II 16 vessels were launched and 1,360 refitted. In total, 57 submarines were built in Chatham dockyard. The last of these was HMS Ocelot, launched in 1962. (Visitors to the Chatham dockyard today can admire it there in its final resting place). Even after 1962 Chatham dockyards continued to perform many submarine refits, the last of which, HMS Churchill, left the dockyard in 1983.

Asbestos was widely used as insulation material in the UK’s shipbuilding industry from the end of the 19th century until the 1960s and beyond. Pipework, boilers, tanks, engine rooms and diesel generating rooms were all heavily lagged with asbestos. Even after asbestos ceased to be widely used as a new material, Chatham dockyard workers were still often exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres from stripping out old asbestos lagging on refits.

Because asbestos was commonplace on ships/submarines, a range of Chatham dockyard employees could have been exposed to asbestos whilst building or maintaining ships and submarines. This includes shipwrights, joiners, engine fitters, electrical fitters, caulkers, labourers, rope makers, supervisors, cleaners and asbestos laggers.

Dangers from exposure to high levels of asbestos (especially blue and brown) and its association with asbestosis and lung cancer had been established by the second world war. However it was not until the mid 1960s that the real dangers of asbestos became well known. In 1965 the Sunday Times published an article warning of the link between exposure to low levels of the more common place white asbestos and the fatal disease mesothelioma. This eventually caused responsible employers at Chatham dockyards and elsewhere to take proper precautions to protect its workers from asbestos. Sadly for too many workers there was too long a delay between this knowledge and action to prevent asbestos exposure. A recent client who worked as a submarine fitter at Chatham dockyards in the late 1960s/early 1970s says they were told they didn’t need to worry about the asbestos dust because it was “only white”. Sadly decades later many former Chatham dockyard workers like him have learned the hard way how badly they were misled. Hundreds of them have found that the supposedly harmless white asbestos fibres they inhaled at Chatham dockyards have led to serious and often fatal diseases, such as asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Nationwide there are nearly 5,000 asbestos-related deaths a years (about half of which are from mesothelioma). The Medway area, which includes Chatham dockyards, is in the UK’s top four for asbestos related deaths. A total of 104 people died from mesothelioma in Medway between 2006 and 2010.

Health and safety” is too often referred to in derogatory terms, but a more conscientious attitude to the health and safety risks of asbestos in the 1950,s, 60s and 70s would have prevented such diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. It is because of such careless attitudes that employers like the Ministry of Defence at Chatham dockyards are often liable to compensate for diseases caused by asbestos. Unfortunately of course no amount of compensation can make up for a fatal illness.  To true !!!!!!!!!!!

It was mesothelioma Awareness day and Facebook was filled with so much Awareness.

I hope people listen and take note that we need more help to control Asbestos and also more money invested in Trials to find the cure.

candle (1)











Candles have been lit in so many places remembering Mesowarriors that have passed and those that are in pain tonight. So many it breaks our hearts.

Rays Blog ——-





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