Thornhill pit asbestos info search

Thornhill pit asbestos info search

MINER Alan Heptinstall was one of hundreds who worked at the former Thornhill Combs Colliery.

He toiled for 10 years up to 1966, digging coal and loading the fuel onto conveyer belts for the ride up to the surface.

They and the walls of the tunnels Alan worked down were reinforced with asbestos lining.

Part of Alan’s job involved repairing damaged conveyer machines, including brake pads lagged with the fibrous material.

Decades later Alan was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

The father-of-five, from Wakefield, died aged 72 in August 2010 after a five-month battle with the disease.

Now his wife Patricia has launched a battle to find out if more could have been done to protect him.

Patricia, 74, said: “It’s still incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact we’ve lost Alan to such a terrible illness.

“We all miss him every day. And we were married for 52 years, so I feel completely lost without him."

She added: “Alan told me it was a tough job, very labour intensive and a really claustrophobic, dusty environment to work in.

“He said asbestos was widely used at the mine and there was obviously no ventilation, so he couldn’t help but breathe it in.”

The effects of his illness, which is incurable, were appalling, including dramatic weight loss and excruciating pain.

Lawyers from personal injury specialist Irwin Mitchell are appealing for others who worked at the coal mine to help.

Ian Toft, of the firm, said: “We hope Alan’s former colleagues will be able to confirm how the National Coal Board may have used asbestos.

“Their information could also help us determine whether more could have been done by Alan’s employers to protect him.”

Anyone who worked at the mine from 1956 to 1966 can call Mr Toft on 0113 220 6235 or email

Share this post