Robert Napier, Scottish marine engineer, c 1870.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photographic studio portrait. Robert Napier (1791-1876) worked for his father in Dunbarton before moving to Edinburgh to work for Robert Stevenson (1772-1850). In 1815, Napier set up his own engineering busines supplying the East India Company and the Cunard Company with marine engines. In 1841 he turned his hand to ship-building, constructing iron ships for the British, French, Turkish, Danish and Dutch governments and taking out various patents for improvements to warships. In 1849 he built the 'Leviathon', the first steam-powered train ferry, which proved the superiority of steam to the Admiralty. He followed this with the 'Persia' in 1854, the largest ship of its time. He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers from 1863-5. Dimensions: 300mm x 260mm.