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The 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.


PREFACE

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.

CONTENTS

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 Napier.

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 Bell.

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 appearance—Hospitality—Honours.

Chapter XIV. Closing Years
Golden wedding—Congratulations—Loss of friends—Death of Mrs Napier — His illness — Death—Funeral.

Chapter XV. An Inspiring Memory.

Appendix—

Appendix I. Copy of original contract for first Cunard steamers, 18th March 1839.

Appendix II. Particulars of some of the leading contracts executed by Mr Napier.


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