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Thomas Andrews (1873)

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  Summary  

Thomas Andrews, Jr. (7 February 1873 – 15 April 1912) was an Irish businessman and shipbuilder; managing director and head of the draughting department for the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland. Andrews was the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner . He was travelling on board the Titanic during its maiden voyage when it hit an iceberg on 14 April 1912 and was one of the 1,517 people who perished in the disaster.

  Biography  

 Early life


Thomas Andrews was born at Ardara House, Comber, County Down, part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland, to The Rt. Hon. Thomas Andrews, a member of the Privy Council of Ireland, and Eliza Pirrie. The younger brother of John Miller Andrews, the future Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Thomas Andrews lived with his family in Ardara, Comber. In 1884, Andrews began attending the Royal Belfast Academical Institution until 1889 when, at the age of sixteen, he began a premium apprenticeship at Harland and Wolff where his uncle, the Viscount Pirrie, was part owner.


 Harland and Wolff
At Harland and Wolff, he began with three months in the joiners' shop, followed by a month in the cabinetmakers' and then a further two months working on the ships. The last eighteen months of his five-year apprenticeship were spent in the drawing office. In 1901, Andrews, after working his way up through the many departments of the company, became the manager of the construction works. That same year, he also became a member of the Institution of Naval Architects. In 1907, Andrews was appointed the managing director and head of the draughting department at Harland and Wolff. During his long years of apprenticeship, study, and work, Andrews had become well liked in the company and amongst the shipyard's employees.

On 24 June 1908, he married Helen Reilly Barbour, daughter of John Doherty Barbour and sister to Milne Barbour. Their daughter, Elizabeth Law Barber Andrews (known by her initials, "ELBA"), was born on 27 November 1910. The couple lived at "Dunallan", 20 Windsor Avenue, Belfast. It is known that Andrews took Helen to view the RMS Titanic one night, shortly before Elizabeth was born. After Thomas's death, Helen married Henry Peirson Harland and died 22 August 1966 in Northern Ireland.

 RMS Titanic
In 1907, Andrews began to oversee the plans for a new superliner, the for the White Star Line. The Olympic and its sister ship the , which began construction in 1909, were designed by William Pirrie and general manager Alexander Carlisle along with Andrews. As he had done for the other ships he had overseen, Andrews familiarized himself with every detail of the Olympic and Titanic, in order to ensure that they were in optimal working order. Unfortunately Andrews was overruled to have 36 more life boats and a double hull and water tight bulkheads that went up to B deck.

Andrews headed a group of Harland and Wolff workers who went on the maiden voyages of the ships built by the company, to observe ship operations and spot any necessary improvements. The Titanic was no exception, so Andrews and the rest of his Harland and Wolff group travelled from Belfast to Southampton on Titanic for the beginning of her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. During the voyage, Andrews took notes on various improvements he felt were needed. However, on 14 April, Andrews remarked to a friend that Titanic was "as nearly perfect as human brains can make her."

On 14 April at 11:40 PM, the Titanic struck an iceberg on the ship’s starboard side. Andrews had been in his stateroom, planning changes he wanted to make to the ship, and barely noticed the collision. Captain Edward J. Smith had Andrews summoned to help examine the damage. Andrews and Captain Smith discussed the damage to the ship shortly after midnight, after Andrews had toured the damaged section of the ship and received several reports of the vessel's damage. Andrews determined that the first five of the ship's watertight compartments were rapidly flooding. Andrews knew that if more than four of the ship's compartments flooded, it would inevitably sink. He relayed this information to Captain Smith, stating that it was a 'mathematical certainty', and adding that in his opinion, the vessel had only about an hour before it completely sank. He also informed Smith of the severe shortage of lifeboats on board the ship.

As the evacuation of the Titanic began, Andrews searched staterooms telling the passengers to put on lifebelts and go up on deck. Fully aware of the short time the ship had left and of the lack of lifeboat space for all passengers and crew, he continued to urge reluctant people into the lifeboats in the hope of filling them as fully as possible. Another reported sighting was of Andrews frantically throwing deck chairs into the ocean for passengers to use as floating devices. According to John Stewart, a steward on the ship, Andrews was last seen in the first–class smoking room staring at a painting, "Plymouth Harbour", above the fireplace, his lifejacket lying on a nearby table. The painting depicted the entrance to Plymouth Sound, which Titanic had been expected to visit on her return voyage. The painting is often incorrectly shown on television and in movies as depicting the entrance to New York Harbor.

Andrews went down with the Titanic and his body was never found.

Finally, on April 19, 1912, his father received a telegram from his mother's cousin, who had spoken with survivors in New York, searching for news of Andrews. The telegram was read aloud by Andrews Sr. to the staff of the home in Comber: "INTERVIEW TITANIC'S OFFICERS. ALL UNANIMOUS THAT ANDREWS HEROIC UNTO DEATH, THINKING ONLY SAFETY OTHERS. EXTEND HEARTFELT SYMPATHY TO ALL."

 Legacy
Newspaper accounts of the disaster labelled Andrews a hero. Mary Sloan, a stewardess on the ship, who Andrews persuaded to enter a lifeboat, later wrote in a letter: "Mr. Andrews met his fate like a true hero, realizing the great danger, and gave up his life to save the women and children of the Titanic. They will find it hard to replace him." A short biography was produced within the year by Shan Bullock at the request of Sir Horace Plunkett, a member of Parliament, who felt that Andrews' life was worthy of being memorialised.

In his home town, Comber, one of the earliest and most substantial memorials for a single victim of the Titanic disaster was built. The Thomas Andrews Jr. Memorial Hall was opened in January 1914. The architects were Young and McKenzie with sculpted work by the artist Sophia Rosamond Praegar. The hall is now maintained by the South Eastern Education Board and used by The Andrews Memorial Primary School.

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Thomas Andrews", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.