UK limited companies from 1844. Here’s a quick look at some of the very oldest limited companies in the UK

3 min read

Posted: 8th Dec 2020

Any company that has managed to successfully trade for 100+ years surely deserves recognition and so to celebrate this remarkable achievement we have a quick look back at 3 of the oldest in the UK:

Ashford Cattle Market Company Ltd

This is the oldest, surviving, registered company in England and Wales. It was incorporated on 25 September 1856, with local farmers and graziers deciding to form a company in support of their fast-growing market. The company was formed with the issues of 250 shares at £10 each, a fair sum of money back in those days.

Certificate of registration of Ashford Cattle Market Company Limited.

Today the market is used by some 5,000 farmers, it’s open 7 days a week and with an annual turnover of £20 million it ranks in the top 15 markets in Europe.

The Cupar Corn Exchange Company Limited

This is the oldest, surviving, registered company in Scotland, being incorporated on 13 February 1860. Named after the thriving market town of Cupar, the Cupar Corn Exchange company was set up to support the selling, grinding and processing of wheat, barley and other grains to local farmers. It issued a total of 467 shares, giving as many local people as possible the chance to own a stake in the company – the only consequence being that it now has 99 inactive shareholders who are presumed deceased, their last known addresses dating back to the nineteenth century!

A sketch of the The new Corn Exchange at Cupar, Fife, Scotland circa 1700.
The new Corn Exchange at Cupar, Fife, Scotland circa 1700.

Although no longer trading in corn, the company is still going strong as an Investment Trust Company and remains very much a family business, with sentimental value owing to its continued success. In 2007 the Registrar of Companies for Scotland, Dorothy Blair, presented the company with a commemorative certificate, recognising them as the oldest existing Scottish registered company.

The Rye Cattle Market Company Limited

‘The Rye Cattle Market Company Limited’ was incorporated in 1859 by local farmers and tradespeople who shared a  desire to run a successful market for the purchase and sale of livestock. Once incorporated the company was able to purchase land and over the years continued to expand and develop the acres that make-up the market premises that still remain today.

Although there is no longer a livestock market, Rye hosts one of the largest weekly general stall markets in South East England – returns a good profit year on year and recently held their 155th Annual General Meeting.

Here’s a link to some info on the oldest companies in the world.

It’s clear the world around us has changed significantly since 1844, but the foundations for trade and the spirit of UK companies remains strong to this day and forming a limited company to realise entrepreneurial ambitions continues to play an integral role in supporting growth.

Start your story today. Incorporate your limited company


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