Britain's Oldest Shipping Firm in Liquidation

Stephenson Clarke/The Telegraph
Friday, August 10, 2012

UK-based Stephenson Clarke Shipping goes into liquidation after nearly 300 years trading.

Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd is the oldest British shipping company. King George II had been on the throne of England for just three years when the brothers Ralph and Robert Clarke purchased an interest in a 300-ton sailing vessel. The year was 1730 and their limited trading activities were to develop during the next 270 years into the present Ship Owning and Ship Management business of Stephenson Clarke Shipping Limited. 

Sons of the Reverend Ralph Clarke, a vicar of Long Benton, near North Shields, the two brothers took up seafaring Careers, becoming master mariners. They began buying shares in ships, in this way gradually establishing themselves as Ship Owners, although they also continued to serve at sea for some time.

Stephenson Clarke had tried to sell its ships and cut costs in the face of crashing rates for dry bulk shipping on which it relied – transporting cargoes such as coal, grain and iron ore.

But liquidator Tait Walker was appointed on August 3, 2012 the company and liquidator said in a statement reported in 'The Telegraph':
"While previous economic downturns have been weathered, the current market is one of the worst experienced for many years with no upturn forecast for at least 12 to 18 months."

Known affectionately as Stevie Clarke, the company sold the last of its six ships in July, Reuters reported.


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