By 1990 the fame of the Napier Company appeared to have faded to an extent that made it difficult to trace information or data relating to the Company or its technological achievements.
Perhaps this fade commenced with the formation of the ‘puppet’ Company Napier Aero Engines Ltd in 1961. This paved the way for Rolls-Royce to take-over Napier’s aero engine division as part of the larger political amalgamation which unfortunately resulted in disappearances of several other great Companies and their often successful and innovative products.
When the Acton plant finally closed in 1968 and the production of the Deltic was transferred to Paxmans then the Napier name was moved even further from the public gaze.
With no-one to fight the Napier cause, former Napierians noticed an apparent lack of appreciation of the Company’s achievements. Omissions and errors in learned books also pushed Napiers further from the public view whilst further elevating already great businesses. Sometimes, when errors were brought to peoples attention then huge efforts were made to correct them. However the damage was done and the Napier name continued to fade.
It was in the October of 1991 when a small gathering of Napierians at the home of former Acton Works Secretary Miss Joyce Finch first sowed the seed of preserving Napier’s heritage. Joyce had organised the Napier Acton Works reunion since the ‘green door’ had closed in 1968. Also present were (the now) Trust President Geoffrey McGarry and Vice-President Alan Vessey. At that meeting the intent was made to form the Napier Power Heritage Trust.
Moving forward in time to 1993 the Trust had its inaugural meeting with 10 Napierians in attendance who all agreed that after 30 years of silence the Napier name had to be revived and remembered. At the meeting a firm decision was taken to found the Trust with the constitutional aim to “Stimulate a wider awareness of the merits and applications of the many types of engine designed, developed and built by D. Napier & Son Ltd.”
At the same time the challenge of preserving Napier’s Heritage had commenced. A key element in the retrieval of Napier history came in 1996 on receipt of an urgent phone call from the old Napier Luton Flight Development Establishment (FDE) and factory. A JCB digger had unearthed a long-closed storage area revealing most of photographic records taken there since the mid-1940’s. Another hoard of information was also uncovered in 2012 in a paper records storeroom at the former Napier Acton site.
Since the inaugural meeting the Trust has grown steadily and its 200+ members have done a great deal to bring achievements and products of D Napier & Son back into the public eye. The Trust has also assisted in the restoration of Napier products ensuring that they are available for display, etc. Many Trust owned engines are on display around the UK. Please follow this link to find out where to see Napier products, applications and archive materials.
The Napier Power Heritage Trust today has moved from having a membership consisting solely of Napierians to one also with people who are interested in the Company and its products. This is helping to ensure that the Trust and memory of the Company continues. The Trust’s journal, Napier Heritage News is published three time a year and contains news and articles about the diverse products and history of D. Napier & Son Limited.