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World's Oldest Shipping Company , Stephenson Clarke in Liquidation
The world’s oldest shipping company disposed of its last vessel and has now gone out of business, according to liquidator Tait Walker.
Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd., started in 1730, has been placed in liquidation. The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK - based shipper, in its final days employed just nine people, sold off its final vessel in July.
As an indicator as to how bad trading conditions are, The Baltic Dry Index, an indicator of rates for transporting dry-bulk commodities including grains and coal by sea, is down 55 percent this year. The current slump is “one of the worst experienced for many years,” the shipping company liquidators said in the statement.
“News of the closing of Stephenson Clarke clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping,” commented the U.K. Chamber of Shipping, “Stephenson Clarke was an historic company and longstanding member until recently and we were very sorry to hear this news.”
The U.K. shipping industry created £12.6 billion pounds of revenue in 2010, according to the most recent published data of the chamber, which includes members from P&O Ferries Ltd. to container carrier CMA CGM SA.
Stephenson Clarke owned dry-bulk carriers for short-sea voyages. It was the world’s oldest shipping company, according to industry newspaper Lloyd’s List, Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd was clearly the oldest British shipping company. King George II had been on the throne of England for three years, when brothers Ralph and Robert Clarke purchased an interest in a 300-ton sailing vessel. The year was 1730.
Sons of the Reverend Ralph Clarke, a vicar of Long Benton, near North Shields, the two brothers took up seafaring and become master mariners. They began buying shares in ships, establishing themselves as Ship Owners, although they also continued to serve at sea for some time.
Robert Clarke had two sons, John and Ralph. The former married Jane Stephenson, of North Shields, in 1775 and moved to London , where he was later joined by his brother to carry on the business of Ship Owning and coal factors. Until 2011, the firm operated a fleet of modern single deck bulk Carriers, ranging in size from 1100 dwt tonnes to 12000 dwt tonnes. They also operated several small self load/unloading vessels of between 1250 dwt - 2800 dwt. The final vessel in the fleet was sold off in July this year.
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