“We had been led to believe that our claim was likely to be 90 per cent successful so we pursued the money we were owed but the adjudicator in this case ruled against us and we were instructed to pay all costs,” said Roger.

“With a turnover of £2 million a year and bundles of red tape to constantly battle against, we just couldn’t cope in such a tough economic climate.

“I recently spent a whole day on a Health and Safety Executive course learning how to teach my staff to wear face masks safely!

“I was also told that builders with beards weren’t allowed to wear them at all, so you can see where we’ve got to in the construction industry. This is a very sad for all of us.”

Mr Harris said unlike the bespoke buildings he and his team specialise in, large building companies can turn out houses quicker and cheaper and also have large departments to deal with the “bureaucracy of the building industry.”

“We’ve been through two world wars, countless recessions and jumped through hoops to make this work but in the end it was just too much to take on anymore,” he said.

About 16 people will lose their jobs but some have already found new work and Mr Harris is keen to help his colleagues as much as he can because he believes that’s the family’s tradition.

“Although saddened by the closure we can all take pride in our work. When we look around and see the things we’ve built we know they’ll still be standing years after we’re gone,” Mr Harris said.

John Harris and Sons has been passed from father-to-son for generations. The year it was founded in 1875 Queen Victoria was on the throne and Benjamin Disraeli was Britain’s Prime Minister.

It’s believed the company constructed over 1,000 buildings across the district including Stratford’s iconic black and white timber-framed public library in Henley Street which was built in 1921.

In addition to that notable landmark, which is often photographed by visitors because of its close proximity to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, John Harris and Sons also built the Christadelphian Hall in Rother Street, most of the terraced houses in Evesham Place, and more recently St Peter’s Mission in Manor Road.

In later years the company developed a reputation as expert builders in quality new builds, bespoke housing and conservation projects.

A meeting of creditors is scheduled for Friday 2nd May.