R Durtnell & Sons was set up in 1591

r durtnell and sons 3

The UK’s oldest builder has gone under after more than 400 years of trading with over 100 jobs at risk.

Kent-based builder R Durtnell & Sons, which traces its roots back to 1591, had been run by the same family for more than 13 generations.

In its last set of accounts, for the 12 months to December 2017, the firm posted turnover up a quarter to £51m but nosedived into the red racking up a pre-tax loss of £701,000.

The firm said it had been faced with cash flow issues during the period, which had required an addition £1.5m being pumped into the business after the year end.

It added that it was planning a shift "to have a smaller number of high-quality contracts, rather than a high volume of lower quality contracts".

The accounts, which were signed off just before Christmas last year, also revealed that the firm had to make a provision of nearly £650,000 against its joinery business which it said had stopped trading.

Based near Sevenoaks, one of the firm’s largest current contracts was for Brighton and Hove city council to carry out the £21m refurbishment of the Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre, which started in February 2017.

In a statement, the council said: "We have taken back the site and made it secure. We are committed to completing the refurbishment of these unique buildings to protect their long-term future in the cultural heart of the city."

The council said it would be exploring options for continuing and completing the restoration works over the coming days.

Calls to R Durtnell & Sons, which employed 108 people according to its last accounts, went unanswered.