Titanic | The National Archives

Stories from The Titanic
Photograph of Thomas Andrews, designer of Titanic. Catalogue reference: COPY 1/565 item 209

The story of
Thomas Andrews

First class passenger and designer of Titanic
Thomas Andrews was born on Friday 7 February 1873 at Ardara House, Comber, County Down, in what is now Northern Ireland. He was the second of six children born to Thomas Andrews, a member of the Privy Council of Ireland, and Eliza (Lizzie) Pirrie, whose brother was Lord William James Pirrie, chairman of the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff.
Thomas Andrews Portrait. Catalogue Reference: COPY1/565

Photograph of Thomas Andrews, designer of Titanic. Catalogue reference: COPY 1/565 item 209

He married Helen Reilly Barbour on 24 June 1908 and a daughter, Elizabeth, was born on 27 November 1910. On the 1911 census the family are shown as living at Dunallon, 12 Windsor Avenue, Belfast, which was a large detached house, along with five servants.

Thomas Andrews began working at Harland and Wolff as an apprentice at the age of 16 and quickly progressed. He became Managing Director of the design/draughting department and Chief Naval Architect in just over 20 years. By the time the Olympic/Titanic contract had been struck with White Star Line he had already worked on Celtic, Cedric, Baltic, Oceanic and Adriatic. Thomas boarded Titanic on her maiden voyage, as he had done on Olympic and several other ships, to ensure that everything went smoothly, heading up the so-called Guarantee Group. He embarked as a first class passenger with ticket number 112050 and was seen by passengers and crew with his notepad and pencil making notes during the voyage.

At the British Wreck Commissioner’s inquiry, Saloon Steward James Johnson stated that he saw Andrews and Captain Smith inspecting the flooded areas of the ship, including the mail room and racquet court. Thomas concluded that the ship would sink in about two hours. Steward John Stewart stated that he saw Thomas Andrews moments before the ship went down, standing silently in the first class Smoking Room, with his lifebelt lying discarded nearby. He did not survive the sinking of Titanic and his body was never recovered.