Mr Thomas Andrews - Titanic First Class Passenger

Thomas Andrews was a first class passenger, a senior member of Titanic's design team, and was onboard Titanic as part of the shipbuilders guarantee group, to observe the performance of the ship and ensure all was well. When telling the history of Titanic's sinking, Thomas Andrews plays a key role.

 Isidor and Ida Straus
Thomas Andrews with his wife and daughter

Thomas Andrews was born on 7th February, 1873, at Ardara House, Comber, Northern Ireland. His Father Thomas Andrews Sr., was a member of the Privy Council of Ireland (a politician) and his mother Eliza, was the sister of William Pirie, the owner of Harland and Wolff shipyards.

In September 1884, at the age of 11, Thomas Andrews, who had previously been privately educated by a tutor, become a student at the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast. In 1889, now at the age of 16, Thomas Andrews, left the Royal Academical Institution and become a premium apprentice at Harland and Wolff Shipyards, Belfast.

At the shipyards, Thomas Andrews was given no special treatment as the nephew of William Pirie, but throughout his five year long apprenticeship, his talent, hard work and generosity was clear. In 1901, he was made the manager of the yards construction works, and during that same year he become a member of the Society of Naval Architects.

In 1907, the same year as the idea of the Olympic class liners was first discussed with Harland and Wolf, Thomas Andrews, was made Managing Director of Harland and Wolff. Around a year later, on 24th June 1908, he married Helen Reilly Barbour, and around two years later they had a baby daughter, who they named, Elizabeth.

During the design and construction of Olympic and Titanic, Thomas Andrews was heavily involved. when Titanic departed Belfast for Southampton, on 2nd April 1912, he went with the ship to oversee all the last minute work, and when Titanic departed Southampton for her fateful maiden voyage, 8 days later, he along with 8 other workers from Harland and Wolff stayed with ship. Thomas Andrews was aboard to ensure all was well and to observe the ship for future improvements and alterations to Titanic and future ships.

As always during his voyages, it is notable that Thomas Andrews left a good impression on both the ships passengers and crew. Throughout the voyage he kept busy, fixing little problems, and observing and making notes about the ship.

At 11.40pm on 14th April, Thomas Andrews was working in his cabin when Titanic fatally collided with the iceberg. Unaware of the situation, he remained in his cabin until Captain Smith urgently called for him. Following an inspection of the damage, he would have been the first to know that the ship would not have long to live; he was the one who had to break the news to the Captain, that his ship would quickly sink.

As the ship sank, Thomas Andrews did his best to encourage people to wear their lifebelts and to go to the lifeboats. He is said to have last been seen, shortly before the ship sunk, in the smoking room, standing alone. His body is not known to have been recovered.

Thomas Andrews has been portrayed in many Titanic films and TV programmes, including the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, played by Michael Goodliffe; the made for TV film, SOS Titanic, played by Geoffrey Whitehead, and the 1997 Titanic film, played by Victor Garber.

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