David Napier

1790 - 1869

Marine engineer. Born in Dumbarton, Napier began in his father's works at Camlachie and built the boiler for Henry Bell's pioneering Comet in 1812. He took over the Camlachie Foundry from his father in 1814 turning it into a successful engineering firm and establishing his reputation as one of the best builders of marine engines in Scotland. By 1818, he was designing engines for ocean-going ships. In 1821 Napier moved to Lancefield Quay on the north bank of the Clyde and Camlachie was taken over by his better-known cousin (and brother-in-law) Robert Napier (1791 - 1876). At Lancefield, Napier began to construct complete ships, including the Aglaia which, in 1827, was one of the world's first iron steam-ships. Napier is credited with several other innovations during his long career. However, we was deeply affected when one of his ships, the Earl Grey exploded at Greenock, killing six people in 1835. He sold his Lancefield yard to his cousin and moved his family to London. There he established a new shipyard on the Isle of Dogs, from where he launched his first experimental iron steamer, the Eclipse, in 1852. He died at his home in Kensington and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

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