Harland and Wolff’s chief ship designer who went down with the Titanic
Thomas Andrews was born in Comber, Co Down, in 1873. His family were prosperous and well connected, not least to Lord William Pirrie, his mother’s brother. Andrews was educated privately and then, from 1884, at Belfast Academical Institute.
He joined Harland and Wolff as a premium apprentice in 1889. With brief spells in the joiners’ and cabinetmakers’ shops among others, he completed his five year apprenticeship with an 18 month stint in the drawing office. Andrews progress thereafter was rapid. An outside manager in 1894, he was head of repairs, manager of construction on the Celtic, and assistant chief designer by 1904. A year later (though some sources suggest 1903), he was appointed head of design.
On April 2, 1912, Andrews was on board the Titanic as she left Belfast for Southhampton, overseeing final work on the ship. Why he remained on board for the second leg of the liner’s voyage is unclear, but he may have been standing in for Lord Pirrie who was too ill to travel. Andrews and eight other managers, workmen and apprentices from Queen’s Island were lost with the vessel on April 14. Accounts of the last minutes of his life describe him throwing deckchairs to survivors in the water. A cable sent to Belfast after the disaster read: ‘All unanimous Andrews heroic unto death, thinking only safety others.’