- \18.6.1791 Dumbarton/UK - 23.6.1876 Shandon/UK\Robert Napier served an apprenticeship with his father. In 1815 he commenced business in Glasgow; it expanded through the preparedness to build steam machinery, beginning in 1823 with the engines for the paddle steamer Leven, still to be seen close from Napier's grave in Dumbarton. His name assured owners of quality. Two key orders contributed to the success, namely in 1836 for the Honorable East India Company, and two years later for the Royal Navy. Napier's shipyard and engine shops, then known as Robert Napier&Sons, were to be awarded 60 Admiralty contracts, with a profound influence on ship and engine procurement for the Navy and foreign countries, placing for the first time substantial work in the United Kingdom.\In 1843 Napier ventured in shipbuilding with the paddle steamer Vanguard built of iron. The following year the Royal Navy took delivery of the iron-hulled Jackall, enabling Napier to secure the contract for the Black Prince, Britain's second largest ironclad. The greatest legacy of Napier was his training of young engineers, shipbuilders and naval architects. Almost every Scottish shipyard was influenced by him and many of his early foremen left to set up rival establishments along the banks of the River Clyde. His close association with Samuel Cunard led to the setting up of the company now known as the Cunard Line. Napier designed and engined the first four ships, subcontracting the hulls of this historic quartet to other shipbuilders. While he contributed only 2 percent to the equity of the shipping line, they came back to him for many more vessels, including the magnificent paddle ship Persia, in 1855. It is an old tradition on the Clyde that the smokestacks of ships are made by the engine builder. The Cunard Line still uses red funnels with black bands, Napier's trademark, in honor of the engineer who set them going. Napier was a Knight Commander of the Dannebrog in Denmark. He was also the president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1864 and from 1869 an Honorary Member of the Glasgow Society of Engineers.\Anonymous (1912). Robert Napier. Proc. Institution Mechanical Engineers 56: Frontispiece. P Anonymous (1912). Robert Napier. The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect 35(1): 13. P Anonymous (1996). Napier, Robert. Biographical dictionary of the history of technology: 514- 515, L. Day, I. McLeod, eds. Routledge: London.Napier, J. (1904). The life of Robert Napier. Blackwood: Edinburgh. Napier, R. (1877). Manual of navigation. MacLehose: Glasgow.Walker, F.M. (1984). Song of the Clyde: A history of Clyde shipbuilding. PSL: Cambridge.
Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.