Life of Robert Napier of West Shandon Chevalier of the Legion of Honour; Knight
Commander of the Order of Dannebrog; President of the Mechanical
Engineers by James Napier, M.A., F.R.S.E.
It is often said that
the Clyde made Glasgow, and the object of this volume is to relate
in some detail the life of one who, by his energy and perseverance,
caused the Clyde to become the most famous shipbuilding centre in
the world, and thereby contributed most materially to building up
the fabric of what is now called the second city in the Empire.
Chapter I. Early Days
Dumbarton—Parentage — Birth—School-days —Apprenticeship—Works as a
journeyman—Starts in Glasgow—Joins Hammermen—Marriage.
Chapter II. David Napier
Birth—Removes to Glasgow—The Comet—Camlachie Foundry—Starts Belfast
trade—Purchases Lance-field—Goes to London—Inventions—Later years.
Chapter III. Camlachie
Leases Camlachie Foundry—Engages David Elder—Order for Leveris
engine—Success—Builds Belfast steamers — Meets Maudslay—Wins Yacht
Club race—Acquires Vulcan Foundry.
Chapter IV. Assheton Smith
Retires from Royal Yacht Squadron—Sends for Napier —Orders Menai—Builds
Fire King—Speed of Fire Queen — Dislikes screw yacht — Intimacy with
Chapter V. Vulcan Foundry
Equips Yulcan Foundry—Founds Steam-Packet Companies—Contracts for
Dundee and Perth—Their great success—Letter to Mr
Duncan—Introduction to East India Company—Builds Berenice— Yoyage to
India—Beats Atalanta—Intimacy with Mr Melvill.
Chapter VI. Admiralty
Introduction to Admiralty—Tender for Vesuvius and Stromboli—Captain
Ommanney’s report—Hostility to Scotch engines—Parliamentary
return—Result —Letter on Boiler question.
Chapter VII. Lancefield House
Acquisition of Lancefield—Defeats Clyde Trustees— James Napier—John
Wood—Pounding of John Reid & Co. — Connection with Muirkirk Iron
Works—Letter from Lord George Bentinck.
Chapter VIII. Atlantic Navigation
Early attempts—Letter to Mr Patrick Wallace—Proposal falls through —
Inception of British and American Company — Engines British Queen—
Results—Failure of Company.
Chapter IX. Cunard Company
Cunard’s early history—Consults Mr Melvill—Negotiations with
Napier—First contract signed—Correspondence with Napier —
Difficulties — Napier supports enterprise—Offers Burns agency—Succoss
—First shareholders—Intimacy with Cunard.
Chapter X. Iron Shipbuilding
Acquires ground at Govan—Appointment of William Denny — Starts iron
shipbuilding — First iron steamer for Admiralty—Simoom—Intimacy with
naval officers—Family relationships.
Chapter XI. West Shandon
First cottage—Enlargement—Disappearance—Present mansion—Professor
Kerr’s criticism—Collection— Hospitality—Letter from Marquis of
Dalhousie and others—Erection of Row church and statue to Henry
Chapter XII. Robert Napier & Sons
Future plans—Santiago difficulty—John Elders departure—Napier and
Elder firms—Crimean War —Persia—Erebus—Retiral of James R. Napier—
Western Bank— Cathedral —University— Letter from Melvill.
Chapter XIII. Ironclads
Admiralty orders Black Prince—Parkhead Forge—Rolf Krake—Turkish
frigates—Neptune—Scotia —Cape mail - steamers—Queen of the Thames—
Practical retiral—“Measured mile”—Last public
Chapter XIV. Closing Years
Golden wedding—Congratulations—Loss of friends—Death of Mrs Napier —
His illness — Death—Funeral.
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