Britain's oldest shipping company has gone under, another victim of the country's double-dip recession, liquidator Tait Walker LLP said on Friday.
The accountancy firm said that Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd, Newcastle, England, sold off its last vessel in July and is now in liquidation.
"It is with great regret that the company has had to cease trading," Stephenson Clarke said in a statement emailed out by Tait Walker. "Whilst 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 12-18 months."
Stephenson Clarke boasts of being the country's oldest shipping company, established by a sibling pair of master mariners during the reign of King George II in 1730.
"I don't believe there's anyone else in shipping who can claim to be in business any longer," maritime researcher David Asprey said in a phone interview.
He said the company's history spanned the age of sail and the advent of containerized shipping.
"They grew up in the coaling trade, between the northeast (English) coalfields and London in particular," Asprey said. "They've seen that whole transition of technology from wooden sailing coasters through into steam, into diesel, and into iron and steel ships. They've bridged the technological revolutions of the industrial world."
Britain's Chamber of Shipping said in a statement that it was sorry about the news, saying it "clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping."