They will find it hard to replace him."Mary Sloan, Titanic Stewardess
letter to her sister, 27 April 1912
Thomas Andrews was just one of the many heroes that fateful night. But more than being a hero on the Titanic, he was considered a hero in his day for what he accomplished. He overcame some courage defying feats! When you hear the name of Thomas Andrews, you immediately think of the Titanic's designer! But there was more than that, he lived a life just like many others you hear about. But today we will go behind the life of the designer of the Titanic, Thomas Andrews!
Thomas Andrews Jr. was born on February 7th, 1873 in Belfast Ireland. He was born to Thomas Andrews, and Eliza, Pirrie which was their second child.
Thomas's mother was the sister to Lord William James Pirrie, the owner of the H&W shipbuilding company, James Pirrie had started out as an apprentice and worked all the way up to owner.
Thomas's elder brother continued in his Father's footsteps in politics, and became the Prime Minister of Northern, Ireland.
From a very early age Thomas had shown an interest in ships, and as a result went to Royal Belfast Academical Institution, and left there at age 16 to begin his apprentice at H&W.
On 24 June 1908, Thomas was married to Helen Reilly Barbour, daughter of John D. Barbour, a company director. The couple made their home at "Dunallon," Winslow Avenue in Belfast. It is known that he took her to view Titanic one night in 1910, shortly before their daughter Elizabeth was born, while the ship was still in its cradle and Halley's Comet was at its greatest brilliance.
Upon leaving school in 1889, at age sixteen, Andrews began work as a premium apprentice at Harland & Wolff Ltd. shipbuilders in Queen's Island, Belfast. The apprenticeship he served was designed for one intended to end up quite high in the company. He began with three months in the joiner's shop, followed by a month in the cabinetmaker's ship and two months actually working on the ships. His great talent for mechanical engineering and construction and his growing leadership abilities singled him out for a bright future, possibly as a senior manager.Andrews became a member of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1901. After working up through several departments, he became the firm's managing director and head of the draughting department.
Andrews seemed well-suited to his work. Shipbuilders were apparently a very exclusive bunch; their work was very hard, and it took a great deal to gain their respect. Andrews had earned it. During his apprenticeship he had shown that he could meet the physical demands of the work. He was by this time six feet tall and broad-shouldered. Once, when a red-hot rivet fell from an upper deck and barely missed his head, he kicked away and laughed. He was also developing a great reputation for integrity, according to Daniel Allen Butler, "were it not so well documented, would be hard to believe."
|"One evening my husband and I were in the vicinity of Queen's Island, and noticing a long file of men going home from work, he turned to me and said, 'There go my pals, Helen.' I can never forget that tone in his voice as he said that, it was as though the men were as dear to him as his own brothers. Afterwards, on a similar occasion, I reminded him of the words, and he said, 'Yes, and they are real pals, too."|
On one occasion Andrews had a chance to rescue one of his "pals." Anthony Frost, had climbed 80 feet of scaffolding during a gale in order to secure some loose boards. While up there, Archie became terrified and Andrews climbed the scaffolding himself to help bring him down before securing the boards himself. Archie was a member of the team of eight men from Harland & Wolff who accompanied Andrews on Titanic's maiden voyage, all of whom perished.
It has been frequently pointed out that he knew every detail of his ship and none escaped him. During the last few days he had many meetings with owners, engineers, subcontractors, officials, he gave tours, and in between these events he found himself adjusting furnishings, electric fans, and no doubt answering constant questions. Andrews's work was not finished once he and the ship set out from Southampton. After the voyage began, he continued to help the crew adjust to the new ship. He carried a notebook with him and was constantly making notes for improvements. The pebble dashing on the promenade, for instance, was too dark and the stateroom hat racks had an excessive number of screws holding them in. Still, on 14 April, Andrews remarked to a friend that Titanic was "as nearly perfect as human brains can make her."
On the night of April 14th 1912, Thomas Andrews was a courageous man, running here and there, making sure that rooms were emptied out, assisting women into the lifeboats, and insisting that men put on their life-belts. He was last seen in a first class reception room, and there surly met his fate.
I'm sure that even more could be said about this great man, but that is the limit of my knowledge, of his life. There is more that I could talk about him in the process of designing the Titanic, but we'll save that for another day, I just thought it would be interesting to see his life, and who he really was!