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Digital Gallery Images

The Gallery includes images of the borough's streets and buildings and portraits of people and communities. The Digital Gallery images are displayed as thumbnails. Full size images can be viewed by clicking on a thumbnail.

How do I obtain a copy of an image?

Photographic copies can be obtained from Tower Hamlets Local Studies and Archives (there is a charge for this service) or a maximum of 5 digital copies can be emailed to you. If you would like to use the images for publication or display please contact us at


David Napier

Image Number:





Island History Trust Image Collection


David Napier, born in Dumbarton in 1790, worked as an engineer in the early days of steam navigation, had a works on the Clyde. He moved to Millwall in 1837 where he acquired a site next to the yard of William Fairburn. comfortable dwelling house was built on the site, and became known as Napier House. The business was in the name of David's two sons, John and Francis. David Napier himself concentrated on experimental work with steam powered boats. His first well-known vessel was ‘The Eclipse', used with great success on the Blackwall to Margate run. He also built ‘The Rocket and ‘The isle of Thanet'. By 1852 Napier realised that the future of iron ship-building did not lie on the banks of the Thames, and he sold the yard, which was leased to the builders of ‘The Great Eastern'.