Saturday, January 26, 2008

American Napier Automobile Company

1906 American Napier (picture found online)

Napier was a British manufacturer of automobiles in the early twentieth century. An American Napier company was formed to assemble parts shipped from Britain for sale in the United States. The Napier Motor Company of America opened their factory in part of the old B.F. Sturtevant blower plant between Green and Williams streets in 1904.
You can see the location of the company here. Look in the upper right, near the Jamaica Plain (Green street) train station.

I haven't been able to find much information on the cars, but the company was in the news in at least two occasions. In 1906, an injunction was requested against local 264 of the International Association of Machinists, restraining them from interfering with the operation of the Napier motor company and from meeting or patrolling near the factory.

The union men of the factory had gone on strike protesting the firing of workers. The company claimed that the men had threatened workers who would not join the union, while the union said that the men had refused to sign an agreement to pay for tools spoiled during work.

In a hearing in the court of Judge Fessenden, the judge seemed to respect the rights of labor organizations to strike. He had granted an injunction to a union in the past, and suggested that the two parties come to an agreement.

The court heard evidence from non-union workers that they had been threatened by union workers. The union men denied the charges. When three men were fired by the company, sixty union men went on strike in their support.

Days later, Judge Fessenden granted the injunction, and the matter disappeared from the news.

In March of 1909, the company was back in the news, this time because of bankruptcy. The company was reorganized and put under new management. The same arrangement with British Napier was retained, A medium priced roadster and a light delivery wagon were planned, and negotiations were under way with a taxi service for several hundred taxicabs to be built. The company also established a repair department at the plant.

The next month, 10,000 shares of preferred stock of the American-Napier Company was offered to the public.

"The Napier companies assets consist of a thoroughly equipped plant covering 4 acres and capable of turning out two complete cars per day, as soon as the desired additional force of men is put to work, also of complete parts - mostly imported for immediate assembling of a number of cars. To this can be added the American rights to the Napier, estimated at $30,000 per year in experimental work and designs alone.

"Dividends at the rate of 7 per cent per annum are payable quarterly, beginning the calendar year. The next dividend date is July 1.

"The automobile industry was never in better shape than at present. The big factory of American-Napier Company at Jamaica Plain is rushed with work for spring delivery. The repair department, established to accommodate the thousands of owners of good cars in Greater Boston, is working to capacity."

And that's the last mention I can find of the Napier Company of Jamaica Plain. The company seems to have survived until 1912, only to be replaced in Jamaica Plain - in another former Sturtevant building - by the Farnham & Nelson automobile company, as I've discussed here.

Boston Daily Globe March 9, 1906, March 14, 1906, March 7, 1909


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