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Thomas Andrews (1873-1912)

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Thomas Andrews (1873-1912) of Harland and Wolff

1912 Died on the RMS Titanic


1912 Obituary [1]

THOMAS ANDREWS was born at Ardara, Comber, Co. Down, on 7th February 1873, being the second son of the Right Hon. Thomas Andrews, D.L.

He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, and at the age of sixteen entered the works of Messrs. Harland and Wolff, Belfast, as a pupil. He passed through the various departments in the works and also the drawing office, showing great aptitude and industry, and during this period he studied in the evenings.

After the completion of his apprenticeship his promotion was rapid and entirely due to his own ability and energy. He was appointed as one of the outside managers in the shipyard, and was subsequently given charge of the Repair Department, in which capacity his abilities were thoroughly tested, as some of the most difficult engineering achievements were supervised by him at this early age, including the lengthening of the Union liner "Scot," also the lengthening of the Hamburg-American liner "Auguste Victoria," the reconstruction of the S.S. "China" after being ashore at Perim, and a still larger operation, the reconstruction of the S.S. "Paris," which had been badly damaged on the Manacle Rocks. In the case of the last-named vessel, not only was the damage made good but the formation of the stern was completely changed and modernized; one of the three funnels was dispensed with and new engines and boilers installed.

In the case both of the "China" and the "Paris" the mere docking was in itself a formidable operation, owing to the extensive damage to the bottom of the vessels.

Subsequently he was given still greater managerial responsibility, and he was closely identified with the construction of all the large steamers built by the firm for the White Star and other Lines during the last ten or twelve years, including the "Celtic" (20,904 tons), "Cedric" (21,035 tons), "Baltic" (23,876 tons), "Adriatic" (24,540 tons), "Olympic" (45,324 tons), and "Titanic" (46,328 tons) for the White Star Line; "Amerika" (22,724 tons), "President Lincoln" (18,074 tons), and "President Grant" (18,089 tons) for the Hamburg-American Line; "Nieuw Amsterdam" (16,913 tons) and "Rotterdam" (23,980 tons) for the Holland-America Line; the Red Star liner "Lapland" (18,565 tons), and other vessels.

In addition to the vessels already mentioned, he was largely responsible for the design and construction of, amongst others, the following: "Aragon" (9,441 tons), "Amazon" (10,037 tons), "Avon" (11,073 tons), "Asturias" (12,002 tons), and "Arlanza" (about 15,000 tons) for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company; "Herefordshire," "Leicestershire," "Gloucestershire," and "Oxfordshire" for the Bibby Line; the "Pericles," "Themistocles," and "Demosthenes" (each about 11,000 tons) for Messrs. George Thompson and Co., Limited's Aberdeen-Australian Line; the "Laurentic" and "Megantic" (about 15,000 tons each) for the White Star Canadian Service; also vessels for the Union Castle Line, P. and 0. Co., Elder, Dempster Line, African Steam Ship Co., and Pacific Steam Navigation Co.

For many years past Mr. Andrews took a prominent part in the firm's business, crossing the Atlantic on many occasions in the large steamers of the White Star Line, from the "Oceanic" in 1899 until the last fateful trip, when he lost his life in the "Titanic," on 15th April 1912, on which occasion he displayed great heroism and splendid self-sacrifice. Knowing the ship as he alone did and its officers and crew, he could undoubtedly have saved his life, but he preferred to assist others and remained heroic to the end.

At the time of his death Mr. Andrews was busy with many important shipbuilding projects, and his untimely death is felt to be a distinct loss to the profession. Being associated with an establishment so highly organized as is Messrs. Harland and Wolff, Ltd., Mr. Andrews did not take out any mechanical patents, but he was thoroughly familiar with and responsible for many of the latest labour-saving devices and arrangements for securing economy and efficiency of work.

His knowledge of naval architecture embraced electrical and mechanical engineering as well as marine engineering, his experience of all the complicated and intricate machinery and arrangements necessary in the construction and equipment of modern steamships being altogether exceptional.

In addition to the part taken by him in connection with large vessels, he also designed and supervised the construction of some of the latest and most successful smaller steamers, notably the "Heroic," "Graphic," and "Patriotic" for the Belfast and Liverpool route; the "Slieve Bawn " for the Greenore and Holyhead service; the passenger and baggage tenders "Nomadic" and "Traffic" for service at Cherbourg; the "Berbice" and "Balantia" for the Royal Mail West Indian Intereolonial trade; and one of the last ships which he designed was the new pleasure steamer "Erin's Isle " for the Belfast and County Down Railway Co.

Notwithstanding the exactions of his own business he occasionally found time to execute a special commission, such as the investigation of the harbour facilities at Halifax and in the St. Lawrence, also in British and Continental ports; and some years ago on behalf of his uncle, Lord Pirrie, he made an extensive survey of the chief harbours of Ireland. He was thirty-nine years of age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1902.


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