The family of a man from County Durham are urging his former colleagues to come forward with any information on their working conditions following his asbestos-related death.

Richard Swinburne, known as Alf, worked as a welder, assembly worker and machine operator for a number of firms in County Durham between 1958 and 1997, including:


  • 1958 – 1965: Northern Wire Works, based in Blaydon, Tyne and Wear
  • 1965 – 1973: Ransome & Marles Bearings Co / Ransome Hoffman-Pollard, based in Greencroft near Stanley
  • 1973 – 1997: The Ever Ready Company / Berec Group / British Ever Ready, based at Tanfield Lea, near Stanley

The grandfather and great grandfather of more than 31 was admitted to hospital after complications from a fall, where a scan discovered he had developed mesothelioma. He died six months later.

“The doctors knew there and then what it was,” said his daughter, Mrs Conway. “Apart from the fall, he had no symptoms to suggest anything was wrong. Who knows how long it would have taken to be spotted if he hadn’t had that fall?”

Richard Swinburne wearing a dark coloured jacket
Richard Swinburne, known to colleagues as Alf

After Mr Swinburne’s diagnosis, the family instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate an asbestos disease compensation claim.

“We are desperate for answers on how my dad could have been exposed to asbestos,” Mrs Conway said. “He would have been a familiar face across the factories and many may remember him because he was deaf. If you have any information at all about working conditions or know of any asbestos that was present at his former workplaces, please get in touch as soon as possible.”

Helen Jones, who is representing the family, said: “Asbestos has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families, and that figure is only set to rise. Many employers are yet to be held accountable for their negligence.

“If you have any information on how Alf could have been exposed to asbestos, please get in touch as soon as possible. The family are desperate to know how he developed mesothelioma and any information you have, no matter how small you feel it may be, could prove important.”

Anyone with information should contact Thompsons Solicitors on 0191 269 0625.