Christopher Furness, Ist Baron Furness - Encyclopedia




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"CHRISTOPHER FURNESS FURNESS, IST Baron (1852-1912), English shipbuilder and iron-master, was born April 23 1852, the son of a provision merchant, and entered the family business in 1870. By making a corner in food-stuffs, whilst the French fleet was blockading the mouth of the Elbe, he made a profit of over 50,000 for his firm out of the provisioning of ships. In 1877 he left the business and inaugurated the Furness line of steamships, and in 1891 he amalgamated with Withy & Co., iron and steel shipbuilders, founding the great shipbuilding firm of Furness, Withy & Co. at Hartlepool. In 1898, with others, he acquired extensive iron and steel works and founded the S. Durham Steel & Iron Co. He had an interest in many other concerns, and was chief proprietor of a Liberal paper, the North Mail. In 1908 he established a profit-sharing scheme for his workmen, but in 1910 its continuance was put to the vote and rejected by a majority. In 1891 he was elected Liberal member for the Hartlepools, but in 1895 he lost the seat, winning it again in 1900. In 1906 he was returned unopposed, and in Jan. 1910 he was elected but unseated on petition. A month later he was raised to the peerage; he had been knighted in 1895. He died at Grantley Hall, near Ripon, Nov. io 1912.

His nephew, SIR Stephen Wilson Furness, Ist Bart. (1872-1914), who, after his uncle's death became chairman of the shipbuilding firm and iron and steel works founded by him, as well as of many other undertakings, was born May 26 1872. He sat in the House of Commons for the Hartlepools from 1910, and was made a baronet in 1913. He died at Broadstairs Sept. 2 1914.

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