The woman from Chorley, Lancashire, received the compensation after her husband died from mesothelioma in December 2005. He was diagnosed with the devastating disease in March 2004.

He was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice engineer for British Rail.

He worked for the company in a number of roles from 1957 to 1963. His widow told how her husband recalled working in the boiler rooms where the asbestos dust coated everything.

When he became ill he approached his union, Amicus and was put in touch with Thompsons Solicitors specialist asbestos team to bring a compensation claim.

She said: "It was a shock when my husband was first diagnosed with mesothelioma as he had always been so fit and healthy. While he worked as an apprentice he was exposed to asbestos every day but he said he was never warned about the dangers.

"He decided to fight for compensation because he wanted to make sure me, our two sons and his elderly mother were all cared for after his death.

"I took on the case after his death and Amicus and Thompsons have been very supportive. I am glad it has come to a close now. No amount of money can bring him back, but it means things will be a little easier."

Specialist Asbestos Team

Her lawyer, Gill Owen said: "Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, which has cut short many people’s lives. By fighting this case on behalf of this client we have been able to fulfill her husband's wish that his family will be adequately provided for following his death.

"We hope she will now be able to put this case behind her knowing that we were able to gain justice for her husband’s death."