Robert Napier, Scottish shipbuilder, c 1850s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1839 Robert Napier (1791-1876), Samuel Cunard (1787-1865), Sir George Burns (1785-1890) and other businesmen started the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Later known as the Cunard Line, they secured the British government's contract for the carrying of mail to North America. The Cunard Line still uses Napier's trademark of red funnels with black bands.