Lloyds Court , Lambeth

Upon arrival in London in 1808 David Napier initially was apprenticed to Henry Maudslay at his works in the Soho area of London, before it moved over the river to Westminster Bridge Road in 1810.   By 1815 David had left Maudslay’s company and was employed as a work’s foreman close to Fleet Street.  Around two years later, in 1817, David  became the engineering partner in Messrs Baisler & Napier, Engineers repairing and later building printing machines in premises located at Lloyds Court off Crown Street in Soho.  After just five years in 1822 Bailer  broke the partnership but David continued running the business by himself in larger premises in the same location.

A Napier advertisement of the time shows the Company address as being at 15 Lloyds Court, Crown Street, Soho.  Today Crown Street is the northern part of Charing Cross Road and Lloyds Court is Flitcroft Street a small lane connecting between Crown Street and St Giles-in-the-Fields Church.  Estimated to have existed for over 300 years, this small lane has an interesting history.  The building numbering in Flitcroft Street starts at the St. Giles church end so David’s works at No.15 was close to the Charing Cross Road.  Whether this is the same as in David’s time is not known.

Site of D Napier Soho Works, Lloyds Court March 1995

The exact location of David’s first engineering works has not yet been definitively identified.  The south end of Flitcroft street comprises buildings with addresses on Crown Street (Charing Cross Road) and the Flitcroft Street addresses only reach Number 12!  This March 1995 image taken by a former Trust president, the late Geoff McGarry shows a gated entrance into a yard where several businesses were located.  Maybe David’s works was through this gate?

This building is now known as 12 Flitcroft Street and has been renovated after being Grade Two listed in 1999.  Unfortunately Historic England registers 12 Flitcroft Street as being constructed in 1878 and used by an iron bedstead factory and as part of the Cross and Blackwell pickle factory.  One can therefore assume that David’s engineering works was flattened as part of the slum clearances and improvements to London’s West End.

Goads Insurance Plan 1888 showing Lloyds Court

David Napier’s business remained a small but highly profitable on for many years as he specialised almost exclusively in the manufacturer and supplier of over 340 printing machines to Fleet Street and the surrounding area.
These products included David’s  “Nay-peer”, “Desidertum”, “Double Imperial” and “Platen” designs.
By the late 1820’s the business has grown and also started to diversify.  Having outgrown the premises in 1832 David followed his late mentor Henry Maudslay and moved his business south of the River Thames to Lambeth.

To Lambeth 1832

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