Thomas Andrews Jnr, who was known as Tommie to his friends, was born on 7th February 1873, in a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland.
He was born into a prominent family, who has established various commercial enterprises in their town, including a linen mill.
Tommie’s parents were Thomas Andrews and Eliza Pirrie, who was sister of the future chairman of Harland and Wolff in Belfast. His older brother, John Miller Andrews, was the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and his younger brother, James Andrews, was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.
Tommie was considered handsome in his youth, and he enjoyed animals and the outdoors, his nickname during childhood was ‘The Admiral’.
Privately educated at home up until the age of 11, he then attended Royal Belfast Academical Institution, a school that was more about sports such as cricket than traditional academia.
At 16, Tommie began an apprenticeship with Harland and Wolff and moved into lodgings to do so. Here he gained knowledge about all aspects of shipbuilding and at night he would study at the Belfast College of Technology, where he found himself wanting to become a ship designer.
At the age of 28 he became head of the Designing Department and in 1907 he was appointed managing director of the Harland and Wolff.
In that same year, Tommie married Reilly Barbour and made their family home in South Belfast. In November the pair had a daughter, Elizabeth Law Barbour Andrews.
Andrews was on board the Titanic ship when it set sail on 12th April 1912, it was his job to be familiar with each and every part of the ships design.
He was also part of the Harland and Wolff guarantee group, whose role it was to closely observe the ship and advise on any improvements that could be made.
Due to all of this experience, when the iceberg hit the ship, he advised Captain Edward Smith that the ship was doomed and would sink.
After the event, it was said by survivors that Tommie’s actions were heroic, and he spent his last moments of life helping people get onto lifeboats.
A cablegram from White Star Line’s New York Office, described his actions that night:
“After accident, Andrews ascertained damage, advised passengers put heavy clothing, prepare leave vessel. Many sceptical about seriousness damage, but impressed by Andrews’ knowledge, personality, followed his advice, saved their lives. He assisted many women, children to lifeboats. When last seen, officers say was throwing overboard deck chairs, other objects, to people in water. His chief concern safety of everyone but himself.”
His body was never recovered but in his home town of Comber, the life of Thomas Andrews Junior is commemorated by the Memorial Hall, built by public subscription and opened in 1915.
His grave reads: “Pure, just, generous, affectionate and heroic. He gave his life that others might be saved.”