Britain’s oldest building firm collapses

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Brighton Pavillion.
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One of the firm’s major projects was to renovate part of Brighton Pavillion

Britain’s oldest building firm, R Durtnell and Sons, has ceased trading, putting more than 100 jobs at risk.

The company was founded in 1591, and has been run by 13 generations of the same family.

The company was working on a £22m project to refurbish parts of the Brighton Pavillion.

Brighton & Hove City Council said it wanted to complete the restoration “as soon as possible”.

R Durtnell & Sons made a loss before tax of £679,877 in the year ended 31 December 2017, according to documents submitted to Companies House.

It said economic conditions had been “very challenging”.

The documents show it took a charge of £648,279 on the closure of its joinery business, which had been substantially cut during the recession.

The firm had financial injection of £1.5m after cash flow difficulties in 2018.

It also warned about competitive pressures and risks in contract tendering and management.

One of the company’s major projects was the refurbishment of the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, which was originally built as the Prince Regent’s stable block more than 200 years ago.

Brighton & Hove City Council said it was “committed” to the project, which included renovating the Studio Theatre.

“The council has taken back the site and made it secure,” it said.

“We are committed to completing the refurbishment of these unique buildings to protect their long-term future in the cultural heart of the city.”

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