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5 April 2024 | Witness Appeals | Article by Phoebe Osborne

Witness Appeal: Did you work with John King?

John King, from Poplar, Tower Hamlets, began working at Crown Wharf Co (Coldharbour) Ltd, Canning Town in 1964, he was employed there until 1970 when the dock work declined.

In August 2022 after a short illness during the COVID pandemic, John’s breathing began to deteriorate rapidly, and he died at home. He was supported by his late wife Barbara, and she too sadly passed away a few weeks after losing her husband. As John’s medical records confirmed he had worked with asbestos, an inquest and post-mortem took place at the request of the area Coroner for Essex. A posthumous diagnosis of asbestos related lung cancer was made.


Industrial disease specialists, Hugh James are now investigating the case on behalf of the King family.

John’s younger brother Paul recalls:

“my older brother John was still living at home with our parents, he would tell us about the work he did at Cown Wharf. We would also speak about this period of his life over the years at family gatherings as London’s dock history is fascinating and this part of London is now unrecognisable. I think John also feared this work he did might potentially lead to him developing an asbestos illness as for many decades he was troubled by a dry cough and would try to clear his throat”.

“My brother would describe how the dockside cranes lifted pallets and crates of goods onto the ships, he was proud of the work he did. On occasion I would see him doing this work at the dockside when taken to see my brother during school holidays. There was a dockers hook which they would use to drag the pallets and crates into position on board the ship. My brother told us about the asbestos sacks which would split open covering him in asbestos dust. Often, he would come home and have a wash as he would be filthy with dust and dirt, it was clearly a hard job, and he did this work for about 6 years until the work dried up”

Phoebe Osborne, from Hugh James Solicitors, said:

“The family are appealing for anyone who worked at the Crown Wharf Co (Coldharbour) Ltd, Canning Town between 1964 and 1970 to come forward with information about the working conditions there. It has been suggested that the company only handled timber, but John could have come into contact with asbestos at any time while working for Crown Wharf Co (Coldharbour) Ltd, Canning Town. It is vital people with information come forward to help us understand how John came into contact with asbestos at the Crown Wharf Co (Coldharbour) Ltd, Canning Town.”

Anyone who thinks they have information to help John’s family should contact Phoebe Osborne at Hugh James Solicitors on 01223 660206 or [email protected]

Author bio

Phoebe Osborne

Legal Director

Phoebe joined Hugh James in March 2021 and is a Legal Director in the specialist Asbestos team. Phoebe has acted solely for Claimants in asbestos disease litigation since qualifying as a solicitor in 2013. Since then, she has successfully obtained compensation for a significant number of patients following their diagnoses of mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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