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Mark
Firth

1819 - 1880

Toledo Factory
Mark Firth was born in Sheffield on the 25th April 1819. His father, Thomas, was head melter at the crucible steel works of Sanderson Brothers. The family was a large one, Mark had six brothers and three sisters.

Mark and his brother Thomas junior started in work at Sanderson Brothers bur soon left to set up their own business in Charlotte Street, Sheffield in 1842. Thomas senior joined them shortly afterwards.

The firm started slowly but by 1852, business was so good that they had to move to larger premises at the Norfolk Works, in Savile Street. The works had crucible furnaces, a file making shop and the largest rolling mill in Sheffield.

Two Nasmyth Steam forge hammers were installed to allow Firth's to develop their business into the armaments market. The hammers were used to forge guns. Two larger steam hammers were installed in 1863. The noise and vibration of these hammers caused the neighbouring businesses to complain that their machinery was being damaged.

In 1871, Firth's cast the thirty five ton Woolwich Infant gun. In 1875, they produced an eighty ton gun. At this stage, Firth's were employing over a thousand workers.

Mark Firth was at this stage, one of the wealthiest people in Sheffield. He was elected to the office of Master Cutler in 1867 and was re-elected for the two following years. He was elected Mayor in 1874.

In 1875, Mark bought a thirty six acre estate which he presented to the town of Sheffield as Firth Park and also built a mansion for himself at Oakbrook, Ranmoor on the outskirts of the town.

Mark Firth's Memorial

Mark Firth's memorial in the old General Cemetery, Sheffield

On the 16th November 1880, Mark suffered a stroke whilst at the Norfolk Works. He was taken to his home at Oakbrook but he did not recover. He died on the 28th November 1880 and was buried in the General Cemetery.
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Page last updated on 20th April 2003