Vine Street Works, Lambeth

As early as 1820 David Napier had his own workshop at 15 Lloyds Court, Crown Street in Soho.  However continuing expansion of his business meant that in March 1832 David was forced to move to more spacious premises to the south of the River Thames.  His new residence was at 51 York Road, Lambeth with his works entrance through a gateway off the narrow Vine Street which ran south from York Road towards the River Thames.  The site was situated between the old Hungerford Bridge and new Waterloo Railway Terminus entrance.  The land dropped away towards the river, so flood protection boards were provided to protect the business from unusually high tides.  This was before the embankments were built from 1860.

All mechanical power was taken by belt drive off a large table-type steam engine that drove from its engine house on to overhead line shafting and then by take-off belts into several workshops.  The ground floor heavy machines were driven first and then the lighter machinery in the floor above.

By 1840 the Works boasted a smithy, a foundry, a first floor pattern shop and a design and drawing office.  From 1835 there was also a small workshop for apprentices who started at the Company at this time.  At ground level was the heavy machine shop that housed very large planing machines, one that was claimed to be the biggest in the London area and capable of finishing machining beds for medium sized lathes and long beds for Napier’s ‘Large Quadruple’ and ‘Double Imperial-Extra Size’ printing machines.  Large gun boring amchines were built entirely in-house at Vine Street in connection with an urgent need for the Crimean War armamanet.  Some unusual machines were installed from 1832 included a Robertson wheel-cutting machine, a Whitworth screw-cutting lathe, a Maudslay heavy lathe of 1817 vintage, a Fairburn slotting machine and even a Napier built planing machine.

On the first floors were the pattern-making shop, a light erecting shop and two ‘Precision Department’ special shops.  One was equippedfor light machining and the other for the more delicate work and the calibration of balances, etc.  David also had his own small workshop for experimental work which was directly connected from his home next door.

The Works finally closed in 1903 when Montague moved his business to a new four acre site The Vale in Acton where he could develop his Motor Works.

To Acton 1903
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