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Thomas Andrews,

Builder of Titanic


Tommy designed 'Titanic', 'Olympic', and 'Britannic'. Sadly he only saw the first two, built. Although his plans were followed, almost to a 'T', there was a big objection in the case of the new-type davits (what the lifeboats hang on.) He designed them so that an extra row of boats could be put in alongside the existing ones, but it was 'over-ruled' by all the other managing directors.


He was a managing director, of the design department. He had worked his way up, through all the departments, and knew every line of work that was used in building a ship. He also was Lord Pirrie's Nephew. It was commented that in the preparation Titanic's maiden voyage;

"He, Himself, put in their places such things as racks, tables, chairs, berth ladders, electric fans, saying that except he saw everything right he could not be satisfied. He was always busy, taking the owners around the ship, interviewing engineers, officials, managers, agents, sub-contractors discussing with principals the plans for new ships and superintending generally the work of completion."

Tragically, he was the one who was called upon to give an estimate of how long 'Titanic' would have before she sank.. He was lost in the disaster having spent the precious time left persuading, or trying to persuade people to get into the boats. He wouldn't be saved and refused to board a lifeboat.

"He was in every rivet of her."

Thomas left his wife £10615 in addition to 11 shillings and 3d. Helen married a second time to Henry Pierson Harland. They had no children and Helen herself died in England in 1966. Elizabeth Andrews, probably, as his death occurred whilst she was at a tender age would have been unlikely to have any memories of him. It’s said she lived in Kenya for a while, on no-kill safaris, and rumoured she died in a car accident, some of the Andrews family still reside in Belfast and Comber.

 Here is an excerpt I found from a letter from Thomas to Helen, written on ‘Titanic’ in Cherbourg:

‘We reached here in nice time and took on board quite a number of passengers. The two little tenders (‘Nomadic’ and ‘Traffic’) looked well, you remember we built them about a year ago. We expect to arrive in Queenstown about 10:30 am tomorrow. The weather is fine and everything shaping for a good voyage. I have a seat at the doctor’s (William O’Laughlin) Table.’

Anecdotes from crew: ‘During his business career Andrews received many acknowledgments of gratifying description… from the White Star Company, The Hamburg American Company, and what I dare say he valued as much from the stewards of the ‘Olympic’.'

‘I met him at different parts of ‘E’ Deck more often than anywhere else.’ Steward H. S. Etches.