NS3975 : The Napier Vault

taken 11 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

The Napier Vault
The Napier Vault
The photograph shows the entrance to one of the private lairs that are located at the eastern end of the kirkyard of NS3975 : Dumbarton Riverside Parish Church; see NS3975 : Castle Street, Dumbarton for context, and Link for more on the kirkyard.

As explained there, the kirkyard has been greatly reduced in size from its original extent, so that only few stones are now visible outside of the private lairs (see NS3975 : The gravestone of Janet McIntyre for a typical example of the gravestones, mainly from the early eighteenth century, which previously filled the kirkyard).

As for the private lairs, the southernmost one is the Barnhill Vault, which was originally for the Campbells of Barnhill (on whom, see NS4076 : Memorial to the Campbells of Barnhill); it now contains NS3975 : The gravestone of John Brown and NS3975 : The gravestone of James Oliphant, which were moved here later on. The Napier Vault, the Gothic mausoleum enclosure that is shown in the present photograph, is adjacent to it on the north (its year of construction is given above the entrance).

The middle panel of the Napier Vault (the panel that is visible through the gate) bears the following inscription:

died at West Shandon on the Gareloch in the year 1876
in the 86th year of his age.

ISABELLA NAPIER his wife died at West Shandon in the year 1875
in the 83rd year of her age.

DAVID their fourth son died at Row in the year 1833
in the second year of his age & was buried there.

ROBERT their third son died at West Shandon in the year 1848
in the 20th year of his age."

[The place then called Row is now called Rhu (NS2684); both spellings are pronounced "Roo".]

In mentioning West Shandon, the inscription refers to West Shandon House, a mansion which stood at about NS24838777. The building was designed by J.T.Rochead, and was built for the Robert Napier who is named first in the inscription. It was completed in about 1852, and latterly became a hydropathic institution, before being demolished in the 1950s; see LinkExternal link (at Canmore) for details.]

The late Brian D. Osborne, who was a contributor to Geograph ( Link ), would have been better qualified to discuss the life of Robert Napier, but I can refer readers to his booklet 'Robert Napier, 1791-1876 "The Father of Clyde Shipbuilding"' for further details. See NS4075 : The steam engine from the PS Leven for one of Napier's creations.

Regarding Robert Napier's death, the booklet just cited mentions that his body was brought by road from Shandon "where ships at anchor flew their flags at half mast, through Helensburgh, where the streets were lined and the bells of the three town churches tolled for an hour. Fourteen hundred of his firm's workmen came from Glasgow and Govan by special train to Dalreoch and accompanied the coffin for the last mile to its burying place".

Historically, another Napier family was also prominent in this area; see NS3578 : Kilmahew Castle.
Dumbarton Riverside Parish Church

The church was built from 1810-11 (architect John Brash), and stands on the site of the previous parish kirk. See its listed building report LinkExternal link (at Historic Environment Scotland) for an architectural description. The associated parish kirkyard was reduced in size several times, and much of what was left of it was cleared away in 1972 to make way for the present-day church halls. Only a few of its memorials remain; see Link for details.

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Grid Square
NS3975, 598 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 22 November, 2010   (more nearby)
Saturday, 29 January, 2011
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Person (from Tags)
Robert Napier 
Graveyard   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3980 7520 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5838N 4:34.0010W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3979 7520
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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