Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,502 pages of information and 233,941 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Napier Brothers

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June 1888. Overhead traveling cranes.
1893. Steam Steering Gear of the Royal Mail Steamer "Nile".

Napier Brothers, engineers, makers of steering gear, of 100 Hyde Park St, Glasgow

Several of the sons of David Napier, namely Robert D. Napier (c.1821-1885), John D. Napier, and Frank Napier, assisted their father in the ship and engineering works at Lancefield.

In 1837 they moved with him to Millwall, London.

1852 The 3 brothers left Millwall and moved to Australia. They first tried gold-mining but after failing to succeed at that, they then followed diverging paths. Robert Napier worked on dredging Sydney Harbour; he conceived the idea of the "self holding brake" which he patented.

1867 Robert returned to Glasgow and, in conjunction with John D. Napier, established a business to apply the brake to ship's windlasses and other machines under the name Napier Brothers[1]

1871 Frank returned to Glasgow and joined his brothers in their engineering business.

1872 Demonstration of application of friction brake to steering gear, which was in use at Butterley Iron Works[2].

1872 Mr J D Napier read a paper on "Napier's differential gear for reversing rolling mills" at the Iron and Steel Institute[3].

1885 Death of Robert D. Napier of Napier Brothers[4], last surviving son of David Napier.

1888 Shortage of business led to the calling of a creditors' meeting[5].

1889 Received visit from the Visitation Committee of Lloyds[6].

1901 Supplied anchor gear for the White Star liner Celtic[7].

1936 Supplied Anchor and Warping Gear for RMS Queen Mary

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Glasgow Herald, 9 May 1885
  2. Glasgow Herald 15 April 1872
  3. Glasgow Herald 8 August 1872
  4. Glasgow Herald, 9 May 1885
  5. Glasgow Herald 25 February 1888
  6. Glasgow Herald 31 August 1889
  7. The Times, 5 April 1901