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Thomas Andrews
Architect : R.M.S. Titanic
Thomas Andrews
Harland & Wolff

Upon leaving school in 1889, at age sixteen, Andrews began work as a premium apprentice at Harland & Wolff Ltd. shipbuilders in Queen's Island, Belfast. The apprenticeship he served was designed for one intended to end up quite high in the company. He began with three months in the joiner's shop, followed by a month in the cabinetmaker's ship and two months actually working on the ships. Next he spent two months in the main store (warehouse), five months with the shipwrights, two in the moulding loft, two with the painters, eight with the iron shipwrights, six with the fitters, three with the patternmakers, and eight with the smiths. The last eighteen months of his five year term were spent in the drawing office. His great talent for mechanical engineering and construction and his growing leadership abilities singled him out for a bright future, possibly as a senior manager.

Andrews became a member of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1901. After working up through several departments, he became the firm's managing director and head of the draughting department.

Andrews seemed well-suited to his work. Shipbuilders were apparently a very exclusive bunch; their work was very hard, and it took a great deal to gain their respect. Andrews had earned it. During his apprenticeship he had shown that he could meet the physical demands of the work. He was by this time six feet tall and broad-shouldered. Once, when a red-hot rivet fell from an upper deck and barely missed his head, he merely it kicked away and laughed. He was also developing a great reputation for integrity, that according to Daniel Allen Butler, "were it not so well documented, would be hard to believe."

Andrews was well-liked by both the workers in the yards and the men in the upper divisions of the company and he appears to have loved not only his work, but also the ships themselves and the workers. An entry in Helen Andrews's diary shows the affection that Andrews felt for the men who worked with him, building the ships he designed. She writes:
    "One evening my husband and I were in the vicinity of Queen's Island, and noticing a long file of men going home from work, he turned to me and said, 'There go my pals, Helen.' I can never forget that tone in his voice as he said that, it was as though the men were as dear to him as his own brothers. Afterwards, on a similar occasion, I reminded him of the words, and he said, 'Yes, and they are real pals, too.'"

Workers returning home
from Harland & Wolff shipyards

In 1910, Andrews had occasion to rescue one of his "pals." Anthony Frost, known as Archie, had climbed 80 feet of scaffolding during a gale in order to secure some loose boards. While up there, Archie became terrified and Andrews climbed the scaffolding himself to help bring him down before securing the boards himself. Archie was a member of the team of eight men from Harland & Wolff who accompanied Andrews on Titanic's maiden voyage, all of whom perished.


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