Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes in Industry Slide

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:
World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes Amid Industry Decline
Photographer: Xabier Mikel Laburu/Bloomberg

Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The world’s oldest shipping company sold its last vessel and is going out of business, according to the liquidator.

Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd., started in 1730, has been placed into liquidation, according to a statement from accounting firm Tait Walker. The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England-based shipper, which employed nine people, sold off its final vessel in July, according to the statement.

The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of rates to transport dry-bulk commodities including grains and coal by sea, is down 55 percent this year and on course for a fourth annual slide in five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The current slump is “one of the worst experienced for many years,” the shipping company said in the statement.

“News of the closing of Stephenson Clarke clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping,” the U.K. Chamber of Shipping said in an e-mailed statement. “Stephenson Clarke was an historic company and longstanding member until recently and we were very sorry to hear this news.”

Contracting Economy

The U.K. shipping industry had 12.6 billion pounds ($19.7 billion) of revenue in 2010, according to the most recent data on the website of the chamber, which speaks for members from P&O Ferries Ltd. to container carrier CMA CGM SA. The country’s economy will shrink 0.15 percent this year, the average of 40 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg shows.

Stephenson Clarke owned dry-bulk carriers for short-sea voyages, its website shows. It was the world’s oldest shipping company, according to industry newspaper Lloyd’s List, which traces its founding to 1734.

“The size of the company and its small fleet mean that its failure is unlikely to have implications for wider shipping markets,” said Marc Pauchet, a London-based analyst at ACM Shipping Group Plc, the U.K.’s third-largest shipbroker. Still, Stephenson Clarke’s demise is symptomatic of a global surplus of vessels, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.