Andrews was born on the 7th February 1873. He was the second son of Thomas
Andrews of Comber, Co. Down and his wife Eliza Pirrie, sister of Lord Pirrie,
Chairman of Harland Wolff. He was educated at home by a private tutor
until he was eleven years old. He then attended the Royal Belfast Academical
Institute for a further five years. He then entered into his uncle's (Lord
Pirrie) H&W shipyard as an apprentice shortly after his 16th birthday
on 1st May 1889.
Andrews lived in lodgings during the week in Belfast as it was too far to
travel from Comber everyday. He began to work a 12 hour day, commencing
at 6.00 am. As well as working, Andrews began a course of study at evening
classes, specialising in the theories and practices of Machine and Freehand
Drawing and Naval Architecture.
For five years, Andrews became a member of the skilled artisans. He worked
in many departments in the shipyard learning different aspects of the business.
The Management had high hopes for his success.
In 1893 he was given responsibility for supervising the building of the
'Mystic' and represented the Company successfully on the sea trials of the
White Star liner 'Gothic'.
In 1894, Andrews completed his apprenticeship and began his career. Later
in the 1890's, he became closely involved in pioneering work: the lengthening
of ships by inserting a section amidships, and by the end of the decade
was promoted to be Manager of construction at H&W.
In 1907, when the plans for the trio of White Star liners were being made,
Andrews was made Managing Director. In 1908 Thomas married Helen
Reilly Barbour, a member of the Lisburn linen family of Conway (now the
Conway Hotel), Dunmurry.
The couple made their home at 12 Windsor Avenue. On 20th October,
the Olympic was launched, followed seven months later by Titanic.
During the following ten months, the Titanic was fully fitted out and was
successful in her sea trials. On April 2nd 1912, Andrews was on board Titanic
representing Harland and Wolff after Lord Pirrie had been forbidden to go.
Titanic left Belfast for Southampton.
The next week was spent checking the ship. On April 10th, the ship
called at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now Cobh) Ireland. Andrews
then wrote to his wife expressing how friendly everyone was on board. At
2.00 pm Titanic raised anchor and sailed from Queenstown for New York.
Andrews then spent everyday thoroughly examining the ship. Before
the ship went down, Andrews was reported to be standing in the smoking room
with no lifebelt, waiting for his fate. He had assisted with the lifeboats
prior to this.
At 2.20 am the stern rose high on Monday 15th April 1912. Thomas Andrews
was not among the survivors.
Today Thomas Andrews is remembered in his native town of Comber as a hero.
His name lives on with the buildings of Andrews Memorial Hall and Andrews
Memorial Primary School.