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Robert Napier (1791-1876)
8th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Napier was born in Dunbarton, Scotland in 1791. He served a five-year apprenticeship with his father, a blacksmith, then worked as a mechanic and blacksmith in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1815 he set up as a blacksmith on his own account in Glasgow, and later became an ironmonger and engineer.
He built his first marine engine for the 'Leven' steamboat in 1823. He moved to larger premises five years later and added a shipbuilding yard at Govan.
He formed an association in 1830 with the City of Glasgow Steam Packet Company, and engineered most of their vessels. In 1839, he helped to establish the Cunard Line of mail steamers, which travelled between the UK and North America. In 1856 he built the H.M.S. 'Erebus', the first of the armour-clad vessels ordered for the British Navy.
He died in 1876.