Many key regions of Scotland, the North of England and Wales and the Midlands were almost entirely involved in manufacturing, construction, engineering and industrial production in twentieth century Britain.

Consequently, the areas have also become associated with the use of asbestos fibres to create inexpensive insulation, sound proofing and fire retardant materials.

As a result of increasing asbestos awareness to the fatal risks of exposure they soon became known as notorious ‘blackspots’ for asbestosis disease and incurable fatal mesothelioma cancer of the lung and/or stomach linings.

The north east, especially, was heavily affected. Between 1980 and 2005, over 2,000 people died of mesothelioma, many living in areas from South Tyneside, Stockton-on-Tees and Cleveland to Durham, Widnes, Trafford Park and Tamworth.

However, other areas of the South East where asbestos was also extensively used in vehicle assembly, railway engineering, shipbuilding, construction, power plants, foundries and related industries led to a great number of workers falling victim to asbestos-related disease.

According to latest figures released from the Office of National Statistics, between 2006 and 2010, the area with the highest mesothelioma death rate was Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, which recorded 8.4 deaths in 100,000 per head of the population.

However, the country’s second highest mesothelioma death rate was found to be in the Medway area of the South East. Across key towns, including Rochester, Strood, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham, 104 deaths were recorded, or 6.5 deaths in 100,000 people, over the same period.

It is currently predicted that fatalities from asbestos-related disease will continue to rise to reach over 60,000 by 2050. This is mainly due to the long latency period of up to 50 years, which elapse from initial asbestos exposure and inhaling of the deadly fibres to the emergence of the first signs of mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms.

Usually discovered at an advanced stage of the spread of the cancer, life expectancy from a confirmed diagnosis can be less than 4 months. With three years within which to begin pursuing damages, it will often be the spouse or a close relative who will continue with a mesothelioma claim after the victim has passed away.

Over 2,000 people are annually diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK and the number of claims for asbestos compensation have more than doubled from 574 in 2007 to 1,164 in 2010.