1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Firth, Mark

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FIRTH, MARK (1819–1880), English steel manufacturer and philanthropist, was born at Sheffield on the 25th of April 1819, the son of a steel smelter. At the age of fourteen Mark, with his brother, left school to join their father in the foundry where he was employed, and ten years later the three together started a six-hole furnace of their own. The venture proved successful, and besides an extensive home business, they soon established a large American connexion. Their huge Norfolk works were erected at Sheffield in 1849, and still greater were afterwards acquired at Whittington in Derbyshire and others at Clay Wheels near Wadsley. The manufacture of steel blocks for ordnance was the principal feature of their business, and they produced also shot and heavy forgings. They also installed a plant for the production of steel cores for heavy guns, and for some time they supplied nearly all the metal used for gun making by the British government and a large proportion of that used by the French. On the death of his father in 1848 Mark Firth became the head of the firm. In 1869 he built and endowed “Mark Firth's Almshouses” at Ranmoor near Sheffield, and in 1875, when mayor, he presented to his native place a freehold park of thirty-six acres. He founded and endowed Firth College, for lectures and classes in connexion with the extension of university education, which was opened in 1879. He died on the 28th of November 1880, and was accorded a public funeral.