The River Medway is the longest river in Kent. Spanning nearly 70 miles, this waterway starts in West Sussex and eventually goes on to meet the Thames Estuary.
Over the centuries, certain towns along the Medway have been associated with shipbuilding. By 1558, the channel was a key provider of vessels for the Royal Navy – eventually producing various iconic ships including HMS Victory and HMS Unicorn at Chatham Dockyard.
According to Medway Council, this port grew rapidly during the 1800s and was widely used during the industrial revolution. Although many businesses died out over this period, the areas around Chatham Dockyard were soon used for a new form of construction – cement.
Due to the discovery of Gault clay deposits along the Medway, factories started to appear in areas such as Frindsbury and Rochester in order to turn the material into this familiar substance.
In fact, Medway Council states that by 1900, the cement industry was the largest employer within the area.
Although Medway appeared to be turning into an industrial powerhouse, it has been suggested that its reliance on local materials was its own downfall. With its supplies dwindling, modern technologies allowed the importation of goods from other parts of the world – a method which was sometimes faster and more cost-effective.
As a result, Chatham Dockyards’ shipbuilding days eventually drew to a close. The last vessel produced at the premises was a submarine – called the Ocelot – which was launched in 1962. In 1984, the port finally closed.
Asbestos in Medway
Although Chatham’s shipbuilding days are no more, it leaves behind a dreadful legacy. According to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), the towns along the Medway could be associated with asbestos-related diseases.
Despite the importation, supply, and use of asbestos being prohibited, this substance was widely employed in the shipbuilding industry up until the mid-1980s due to its insulating properties. For example, this substance was regularly used for tasks such as enclosing hot water lines, steam pipes, and boiler parts.
While asbestos had its uses, it was also very dangerous. If exposed to airborne asbestos dust, individuals were put at risk of developing conditions such as Mesothelioma or Asbestosis. Asbestos related diseases usually take a long time to manifest – often developing several decades after initial exposure.
The APIL states that between 2006 and 2010, 104 people died as a result of Mesothelioma within the Medway area. A type of cancer often caused by asbestos exposure, this condition can develop in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Unfortunately, this disease is normally always fatal – usually claiming the sufferer’s life soon after diagnosis.
The APIL’s findings reveal that, out of every 100,000 people, 6.5 have died from Mesothelioma within the Medway area. This figure is much higher than the national average, which stood at 2.5 deaths for every 100,000 individuals.
Unfortunately, as Mesothelioma can take many years to develop, the organisation warned that these statistics could continue to get worse.
Asbestos claims in Medway
If you, or a family member, have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease after working in the areas surrounding Chatham Dockyard, you should speak to one of our solicitors in order to find out more information about asbestos claims in Medway.
Our team of specialist Mesothelioma solicitors have the necessary experience and expertise to help you claim compensation. To find out more information, please call us today on 0370 218 4025 or submit an online enquiry form.