Napier, located near the city of London, began as a small military settlement for a group of disbanded British military officers. By 1838, the settlers had already established a school, a church and – of course – a military academy.
Following the arrival of a second wave of settlers in the early 1850s, Colonel John Arthurs formed a partnership to establish a saw and grist mill. A store and post office quickly followed in 1851. Napier continued on an upward spiral for the next two decades.
At its height in the 1880s, Napier was home to a second saw and grist mill, woollen mill, pump, cheese and cheese box factories. Besides the usual blacksmith shops, shoemakers, carpenters and other trades, there were also three stores and two inns. Institutions included a school, Methodist and Presbyterian churches and a Masonic Lodge. The population peaked at around 230.
Napier, like many other thriving industrial centres, was a victim of the railway age. After the railways bypassed Napier, its industries were unable to compete and gracually shut down.
Today Napier remains home to a small number of rural residents. Many of the old buildings continue to stand and remain in use. Learn more