Britain's oldest shipping company hauls down its flag

stephenson clarkeAUGUST 9, 2012 — Britain's oldest shipping company has gone into liquidation. Newcastle-based Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd., founded in 1730, has fallen victim to the economic downturn.

Founded when Ralph and Robert Clarke purchased an interest in a 300-ton sailing vessel, the company survived for more than 280 years, most recently specializing in small, single deck bulkers. Back in 2008, the company had 10 ships with a combined capacity of 68,238 dwt The ships had an average age of 21 years, with the oldest built in 1975, and the newest built in 2001.

The company tried to get through the down turn in the bulker sector by cutting costs and then by selling ships. The last was sold in July and with no up turn in the market in sight, the decision was taken to wind down the company.

The Newcastle Journal quotes Allan Kelly of liquidator Tait Walker as saying: "The prolonged global economic downturn has seen the shipping market severely impacted through excess market capacity and low freight income, which together with the broader economic recession left little alternative but to place Stephenson Clarke Shipping into liquidation."

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