Former mill worker appeals to ex-colleagues after asbestos disease diagnosis

A man diagnosed with a crippling lung disease needs help from former workers who may know where and how he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres. John Merritt has been diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening after suffering from shortness of breath and chest pains.

The 67-year old believes he was exposed to asbestos while working for John Dickinson & Co in Croxley Mill between 1965 and 1976. He is appealing for anyone he worked with at the company to contact him and help with a legal battle. John said:

“I get very breathless and a pain in my chest if I try to do too much too quickly. If I’m walking upstairs or trying to do house work I have to go at a slower pace and allow more time to complete tasks I used to take for granted. It’s frustrating and has a big effect on my everyday life.”

Diffuse pleural thickening is often caused by exposure to asbestos dust and causes a hardening of the lining of the lung. There is no cure for the disease and in severe cases it makes everyday tasks impossible.

John Dickinson & Co in Croxley Mill was a paper mill dating back to the 1830s and one of the largest employers in the area until its closure in the 1980s.

Mr Mettitt, a widower, worked in the cutting house and operated the cutting machines. He believes he was exposed to asbestos whilst working close to asbestos lagged pipework that ran throughout the huge mill, including within the cutting house.

Diffuse pleural thickening refers to the thickening of the lining of the lung, called the pleura, which is a thin layer that covers the inside of the rib cage and the outside of the lungs. As well as breathlessness, a sufferer can develop a debilitating cough, tiredness and weight loss.

Anyone who knows John Merritt from Croxley Mill during the 1970s or had information about the working conditions, can call Helen Bradley at Birchall Blackburn on 0161 238 5637 or email