Skip to main content

Sunset over the Red Ensign : the decline of the British deep sea shipping 1945-89

Shore, Philip (1990) Sunset over the Red Ensign : the decline of the British deep sea shipping 1945-89. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85961) (KAR id:85961)

Language: English
Click to download this file (18MB) Preview
[thumbnail of 236856.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


This thesis investigates the decline of the British deep sea merchant fleet over the period 1945-1989, a decline evident in both relative terms against its major competitors and from the mid-1970s in a dramatic fall in tonnage of the British-owned fleet. For the purposes of analysing the industry's poor performance, it is necessary to divide the period into three distinct phases: post-war reconstruction without radical innovation (1945-65); rapid technological and market developments (1966-73); and severe, prolonged depression (1974-89). Methodologically, therefore, explanations valid in one phase need not apply throughout the whole period.

Chapter One sets out the scope of the study, sUlll1l8.I'ises the declining fortunes of British shipping, and explains the approaches used to identify its causes. Chapters two to six present analytical treatments of these causes. First, British technological changes. shipowners were slow to respond to the massive

Second, they took a pessimistic view of the markets and were reluctant to engage in new ventures until the mid-1950s.

In 1958-66 and again from 1973 all shipowners had to contend with severe depressions. TIlird, there was a lack of action in controlling operating costs before 1965 and again from 1973. In the first period shipowners proved unwilling to use external finance, although the drawbacks of the more progressive policy were evident from 1974. Fourth, the government restricted profitability and increased the tax burden until more aid was provided from 1956, while other states' protectionism hit liner operators.

Fifth, the shipowners were reduced by continual attrition, from the 1960s by consolidation of ownership and by diversification out of. These in turn reflected a chanie in the nature of management traditional control by the founding families. Chapters Seven shipping rom the am Eight comprise five case-studies of a representative selection of shipowners in relation to issues raised in the preceding analytical chapters.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85961
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war history, 1945-
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:22 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 11:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.