Thomas Andrews, Harland & Wolff’s chief designer
Thomas Andrews was Harland & Wolff’s chief designer, a nephew of Lord Pirrie and a managing director of the company.
Thomas Andrews was the nephew of William James Pirrie, the Chairman of Harland and Wolff. In 1889, at the age of 16, he left school to begin his apprenticeship at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. In 1907 he became Managing Director and head of the draughting department. When the White Star Line commissioned the company to build three new liners, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic, their design was completed under Andrews’s watchful supervision at the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices.
Andrews was well-liked by both the workers and management of the company. He headed Harland and Wolff’s ‘Guarantee Group’, a group of engineering specialists who would accompany each vessel on its maiden voyage to see that all went well. It was while acting in this capacity that Andrews was on board the Titanic in April 1912, as she set sail from Southampton, bound for New York.
When Titanic struck an iceberg at 11.40pm on Sunday 14 April, 1912, Andrews conducted a rapid tour of the ship to assess the damage. Once the order was given to start filling lifeboats, Andrews spent his remaining time ensuring the survival of the passengers. He went down with the ship. In this iconic 1911 photograph Andrews is wearing his everyday working suit and is holding folded plans, possibly of the great ship in which he perished.