When peace returned in 1919 Britain’s shipping industry, although few realised it at the time, faced a new world. The period before 1914 had seen a long period of growth and prosperity, with quickly rising trade in primary products; the war years themselves had seen immense profits as earnings from merchant ships soared. But by 1921 the good years had gone, and for the remainder of the inter-war period there was to be a constant struggle against downward freight rates, rising costs, and intensifying competition. The inter-war years were bisected by the world depression of 1929–33, the worst slump in history, when problems for shipowners and shipbuilders reached new depths. In 1932 nearly one-fifth of Britain’s ocean-going tonnage was laid up, while few of the voyages made were returning profits.
KeywordsDepression Europe Steam Shipping Rubber
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