Art showing Rochdale's asbestos legacy unveiled in Westminster

Date published: 02 August 2013

Rochdale’s asbestos legacy portrayed by international artist unveiled in Westminster.

Rochdale’s MP, Simon Danczuk, has welcomed a major new piece of art recently unveiled in Westminster that addresses the town’s painful asbestos legacy.

The digital artwork by Colombian artist Guillermo Villamizar is called ‘the female face of Britain’s asbestos catastrophe’ and features two women who were Rochdale Turner Brothers Asbestos (TBA) workers.

They are Nellie Kershaw, the world’s first recognised asbestosis victim who died in 1924, and Nora Dockerty, Britain’s first asbestos disease victim to successfully sue an asbestos company for causing asbestos disease.

Mr Danczuk said he would be writing to the artist to congratulate him for his powerful tribute to local people who were killed by asbestos.

“Local women like Nellie and Nora should never be forgotten,” he said.

“Our town has paid a heavy price for asbestos related disease and it is right that a human face is put to this tragedy.

"Nellie was a factory worker in Rochdale who died in poverty from asbestos poisoning. Her employers TBA repeatedly refused to help her and she left behind a grieving widower and young son.

"Local women paid with their lives for TBA profits and we should never forget that.”

Local asbestos campaigner Jason Addy from Save Spodden Valley also welcomed the work.

“The faces of those brave women connected with Rochdale in Guillermo Villamizar's artwork are testament to past injustices that must be recognised and remedied,” he said.

“We have a chance to create a final masterpiece in the Spodden Valley - a safe and permanent solution to the legacy of disease, death and pollution caused by asbestos and profiteers. A ‘Green-lung’ as a peoples' park would be a living memorial to the misery and damage that is still being caused by this killer dust. 150 years of wrong may not be righted but it does give Rochdale the opportunity to be put on the map for positive reasons- an exemplar for community focused de-contamination.”


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