Thomas Andrews : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

While I found the story of Jack and Rose intensely touching, the saddest real-life story must be that of Thomas Andrews, the ship's designer. Cameron portrayed the last stages of his life beautifully and historically accurate from what I understand.

The real Andrews was last seen gazing at a painting in the smoking room with his life jacket resting on a nearby chair. Cameron greatly adds to the emotional impact of Andrews adjusting the clock even knowing that both will be at the bottom of the Atlantic shortly. He even gives his lifejacket to Rose!

The power of that scene brought me to tears as much as the following ones between Jack and Rose. Back to history, what could have possibly been going through that man's head. Just an example of what went through the minds of 1500 people as they faced the inevitable.

What does anybody else think?

-- Jeff (, January 09, 1998


Thomas Andrews died a true professional. He had done his duty, and once the lifeboats were gone, there was nothing else to do.

His employers, Harland & Wolff, the builders of Titanic, are still in business.

{updated link; was at}

-- Thomas M. Terashima (, January 09, 1998.

Thomas Andrews was my favorite character in the whole movie, and I thought that Victor Garber did an excellent job. I also think I would have felt incredibly guilty had I been in his position. I mean, he built this enormous ship, and even though he obsessed over it and added all the safety precautions he could think of, it didn't even make a difference. Granted, it was far from his fault. But I think it would be hard not to feel that way if in that same circumstance.

Annie :) :) :)

-- Annie (, January 09, 1998.

The guy portraying Andrews did an excellent job. I'm very impressed with Cameron's weaving a fictitious character, Rose, with Andrews in an actual encounter. "A Night to Remember" (a nonfictional account of the disaster) shows that one of the survivors did ask Andrews what Cameron had Rose do in Cameron's flick - "Won't you even make a try for it?"

-- Bob Gregorio (, January 10, 1998.

Of all the people who were envolved with building the ship or funding it, he was the only one you felt bad about. he was the only unselfish one who seemed to understand how much of the sinking was "their" fault. Well maybe the captain felt that way too, but he had made a mistake to make it his fault, where Andrews just happened to be a character stuck by awful circumstances. Becky

-- Becky (, January 12, 1998.

I've studied the Titanic on and off for over 30 years, and I must admit I never gave much thought about Thomas Andrews until seeing James Cameron's Titanic. I thought Victor Garber did an outstanding job of taking a minor character role and creating a real, flesh-and-blood engineer; uncomfortable in the rarified atmosphere of first class, but obviously proud of his technological marvel. Of all the fine performances in the film, Mr. Garber's made the greatest impression on me. It's a pity he's been ignored in all the press.

As for the real Thomas Andrews, he undoubtedly felt a great personal sense of failure at the realization that his ship would sink. It is worth pointing out, though, that the Titanic was a reasonably safe ship, both by 1912 standards, and today's. The damage done by the iceberg, opening up close to 300 feet of the hull, was just about the only way the ship could be sunk. The damage that sank the Andrea Doria in the late 1950s would have been no more than a nuisance to the Titanic.

Tom has included a link to Harland and Wolff, the Belfast shipyard that built Titanic and her two sister ships, and Thomas Andrews' employers. They have posted a lot of interesting technical and engineering details on the Titanic, and have a number of books, pictures, and highly detailed construction plans available for sale.

On a final note, it must be the ultimate irony for an engineering firm like Harland and Wolff, that it is best known around the world today for its most spectacular engineering failure--Titanic.


-- Kip Henry (, January 12, 1998.

Thomas Andrews is mentioned in most every publication and movie ever made concerning the Titanic. He was, as far as I can determine, the ultimate perfectionist and took great pride in his work. I believe that although the ship was his finest accomplishment, he took the damage and the impending loss of life very personally in his last hours. There was nothing wrong with that ship. The cause of the collision was the responsibility of White Star and IMM. The loss of life the same. Andrews was the ultimate hero that night. He did as much as humanly possible knowing full well his own life was to come to an end (probably sooner than anyone else knew). Bruce Ismay, on the other hand, was about as low on the food chain as one can get. His antics during the voyage, during the disaster, on board the Carpathia and on arrival in New York when Sen. William Alden Smith had to chase him down to keep him from running away back to England before the U.S. Inquiry, was abhorrant! If there is a hero and villian in this story, they are Thomas Andrews and Bruce Ismay respectively.

-- Peter Nivling (, January 12, 1998.

What could he have been thinking to not even try to save himself. HOw could he feel he was responsible he did everything to regulations. HOw could you not do anything to save yourself, wouldn't you think of your family or even to live so you could answer questions on the disaster. I just don't understand what he would have been feeling it is so sad.

-- Jen Payne (, January 22, 1998.

Jen: The only thing I can think of is one word: Shock! He felt he was responsible.

-- Peter Nivling (, January 23, 1998.

Victor Garber did a marvelous job portraying Thomas Andrews, the most tragic character of Titanic. His honor would not allow him to save himself when he knew that due to an overruling by Ismay, he hadn't provided enough lifeboats. Unfortunately, it was essential "clutter".

-- Candace Gudmundson (, January 29, 1998.

I too definitely have to say that Thomas Andrews was one of my favorite characters. I loved his humanness and strength. He had the inner strength to not get on a lifeboat and take up a spot that could be used for someone else--say, a child--but to do what he could to save as many other people as he could before he went down with the ship. And did anyone else notice that he was the only upper class passenger to recognize Jack both during the dinner and the next morning?

-- Elissa (, February 04, 1998.

Am I the only one to notice this? On the movie poster, where it lists the names of the "stars" , Victor Garber is not on there. However, jonathan Hyde (ISMAY) is. personally, I think Garber had a bigger and more poignant role in the film. Does anyone agree? Also, to the people who have seen the broadway musical (and there are very few of them, I assume, because nobody answered my question about it) Who do you think is a better Andrews? Michael Cerveris or Victor Garber?

-- Natalie (, February 14, 1998.


I can't answer your second question. As to Victor Garber's name not appearing on the posters, issues regarding star billing are defined by the star's contract, and to some extent by the actor's union, the Screen Actor's Guild. While I don't know the particulars in this case, I would guess that Jonathan Hyde's agent managed to negotiate his billing on the screen posters and print advertisements. Tom T. probably has a better perspective on this, since he's "in the business."


-- Kip Henry (, February 17, 1998.

I got all teary-eyed just reading everyone's responses to this thread!

Victor Garber was/is my favorite character/actor from "Titanic" I must admit I now have a big crush on him, even though I sometimes tease the "Leo-lovers."

Anyway, I have thusly been looking into Victor's career! He is mainly a stage actor, and has a wonderful singing voice. He recently had a part on the doomed TV sitcom "Almost Perfect." This month he starts his run on Broadway in "ART" I am going to see him in it next weekend when I go to see Titanic:The musical and Jekyl & Hyde.

I, too, am MOST upset that he isn't given any type of billing for his role in Titanic. Any info on him would be greatly appreciated!!

-- Jennifer from Pittsburgh (, March 03, 1998.

In A Night to Remember, Lord refers to a autobiography of Thomas Andrews "A Titanic Hero: Thomas Andrews, Shipbuilder by Shan Bullock. Has anyone heard of this book. Is it still available?

-- crystal smithwick (, March 03, 1998.

Crystal: Yes, I've heard of it but that's about the extent of it. Good question, and I will see if it is still around. I imagine it would be a pretty interesting insight in to the man himself.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, March 04, 1998.

I thought that Victor's performance of Thomas Andrews superb. Andrews, for me, is the main reason to go back to see Titanic again and again. He seemed the most likeable and human character out of the ensemble (considering how wonderful the ensemble was that is quite a compliment). Garber's performance has me totally enthralled with this man whom I've never heard of before but now I want to know more.

I have been looking for the book by Bullock for the last couple of weeks but with no luck. I am now trying a couple different search services. However odds are in our favor since the book was published in three editions: 1912 by Maunsel; 1973 by Riverside; and 1996 by Amereon Ltd. Amereon has listed the book as out-of stock so if you are looking for it used book stores are the way to go most likely.

If I find a source for the book I will certainly post it should anyone else should be interested.

-- Jennifer (, April 16, 1998.

Just in case anyone is still out there from this thread, paying attention and still wants the book about Andrews.....

I think I found copies.... find it here:


-- Jennifer (, May 08, 1998.

I just loved Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews. I wish his part had been bigger because the character was so important.

I rented the movie "A Night to Rememer", which was based on the Walter Lord book, and in it, there is a moving scene where Andrews coaxes a newly wed woman to wear her lifebelt and try to save herself, despite the uncertainty of her new husband's fate. The woman asked Andrews if he was married and had kids (yes and yes) and what his wife would do, and he tells her that although it would be hard for her, she would do as he asked her and save herself. The woman then put on her life belt and went out to the lifeboats. Andrews remained in the room alone and I think this was the last time anyone saw him. I feel in my heart that he must have been praying (for the souls of all who would die, for himself, his loved ones, perhaps even for forgiveness for his role in the disaster). He was a religious man (Universal Unitarian, I've heard), so that's why I feel that he must have been meditating or praying.

How much courage it must have taken to not flee for his life! He really seemed like a hero to me.

-- Karen (, July 11, 1998.

This is actually another question about Thomas Andrews. It was Victor Garber`s fine performance that first got me interested in him, but then, being an architect by profession, one line from the movie sort of lingered in my mind - "he designed the ship from the keel up". Well, I know a little of how the ships are designed today - interior designs and the ship itself are usually designed by different people, so at first I didn`t really take the above line seriously. But some lines in the book Titanic - an Illustrated History made me believe that Andrews did in fact design - or rather oversee the design of - the whole ship inside and out. Is that true ?

-- Barbara Matul (, July 13, 1998.


As far as I can tell, yes, Andrews did oversee the design and construction of the entire ship. Doubtless he had many subordinate designers and other people who did a lot of "detail" work, but from what I have read, the Olympic-class ships were largely the products of his mind. If Walter Lord and other Titanic historians are to be believed, Andrews was the kind of man who took a great deal personal interest in his work and made a point of knowing his ships down to pretty small details.

He was on the Titanic's maiden voyage because he wanted to see how things were for himself. He could have sent someone else to look over things and report back to him, but that wouldn't have been in character for him. Nothing, large or small, escaped his attention: he was worrying about color schemes in the private promenades and the number of screws in the hatracks. From this, I think we can assume he had a lot invested personally in Titanic, which is why he must have taken it so hard when he figured out that it was going down.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (, July 13, 1998.

I was thrilled to find that I am not the only one who saw the movie and knew who Thomas Andrews was afterwards. I mention Thomas Andrews every time I speak of Titanic, and most people say 'who's he?' I saw the movie five times, and mostly because of Andrews and the other real people. I love the movie, but some parts really make me mad. It acted as if Rose and Jack were the only people on board, and they didn't even exist. I wanted to tell the people who cried beause of Jack to get a life. He wasn't real, but men like Andrews and Astor and Guggenheim were, and they died for people they didn't even know. The only time you ever see the Strausses is when they are in bed, and it doesn't even say their names so not many people knew who they were. (By the way they were sitting on deck in real life) To me Andrews should have been the star of the movie. He was one of the few people who knew from the beginning that his ship would sink, and he knew he would never see his wife or daughter again (by the way why don't you ever hear anything about them after the disaster) When Andrews said "I'm sorry I did not build you a better ship, young Rose," and then Rose hugged him was the only part that made me come close to tears. Did anyone else notice how Andrews had been the only first-class passenger to acknowledge Jack the next morning, but Jack didn't even say good-bye to him at the end? The last time I saw it was the saddest time for me because I had read about the actual disaster. Victor Garber was amazing in the roll of Andrews. He was so convincing in his actions. I belive that is how the real Andrews would have acted I also like Micheal Cerveris as Andrews in the musical (except he's bald,) Oh yeah, one more thing. Am I the only one who thinks Fabrizio and the Astors should have had bigger parts too."

-- Ashley (, August 25, 1998.

As someone who has been studying Thomas Andrews for almost 6 years now, I am SO glad to see that he is finally getting his due. Though he is mentioned in most documentaries and books, most of those mentions are very short--and sometimes there is only one or two tiny notes about him. I was extremely pleased to see Garber's portrayal of him--he did Andrews perfectly. I'm also glad to see the some people have seen the movie and not only liked Garber's portrayal, but have become interested in Thomas because of it.

-- Rivetcountess (, January 14, 1999.

Speaking of Andrews, I came across a book called 'History's Greatest Liners,' written about 10 years or so ago. I was reading the story of Titanic, when they came to telling about Andrews. In a witness account, the book said that someone came by and said "Mr. Andrews! Won't you even make a try for it?" In reply, he said "Good luck to you," and handed the person his life jacket. I think it was clever of Cameron to use this line with Rose added into it. Just a thought...and yes, I agree with you about Andrews. Garber portrayed him beautifully and Andrews was to me a great and homorable man. He had pressed for lifeboats, but was over-ruled in the long run. Imagine how he must have felt at the fire place. It's really so sad that 1500 people had to pay for the result of man's arrogance. Just a thought...

-- Kelly (, January 14, 1999.

Sorry, that was meant to be honorable. :-)

-- Kelly (, January 14, 1999.

As anyone who has followed this site since I have been on here knows, Thomas Andrews is one of my all time favorite people. I don't think it is an accident that every account of Titanic that I have researched and every film that I have seen (with the exception of "Raise the Titanic") does not fail to single out this man as a true hero of this event. By contrast to his counterparts professionally, and by all accounts that I have ever seen, he was nothing short of heroic. Faced with his own imminent death, he chose to help others. History will regard him as the man that designed the mega-ship that sank on her maiden voyage ending the lives of hundreds. But those who know Titanic will remember him as the one, and only one, who took responsibility and tried to make amends before the end of his own life, which he had to know would come at the demise of the ship he designed and loved. I wish, in my lifetime, to meet a person of equal integrity and they are so few and far between in this day and age.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, January 15, 1999.

And except the CBS movie and the 1953 "Titanic". But those two movies were bad anyway... And teh CBS movie was originally written with Andrews in it--why they would cut him out is beyond me. The script is available on the internet, if you haven't read it yet.

-- Rivetcountess (, January 15, 1999.

Hello Rivetcounter:

Right you are. However, I would not say that either movie was bad, just not factually based. The 1953 Titanic was the one that got me on board and the CBS movie was entertaining in that I could sit there and pick the thing apart, historically speaking. The scene on the bridge after the collision with G.C. Scott as Capt. Smith chewing out Murdoch was too much even though the script had a good point("never..never turn your broadside to danger!). I tend to take these films with a grain of salt (with a side of seaweed) and just enjoy the subject matter. The entertainment value, to me, of these two films was not bad. However, "Raise the Titanic" was an insult and the absolute definition of a bad movie which is too bad because it was based on a not so bad novel. The only good thing about that film was the music and the opening sequence. You are right though, Mr. Andrews was noticibly absent in all of them.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, January 15, 1999.

I'm delighted to find this discussion. I've been interested in the Titanic for ten years, and my especial hero is Thomas Andrews. What a man! Like others I was really annoyed that Victor Garber was ignored in comparison to Leo. I thought he delivered the outstanding performance in the film and the only one to make me cry. Michael Goodliffe in A Night to Remember was equally good. There is just something about Tommy's character that is irresistable. My God, if only....I could go back in time and rescue him.

-- nancy Bratby (, February 22, 1999.

yes thomas andrews was a huge part in the whole titanic voyage, he was portrayed in the 1997 film "titanic" very well by victor, i think that he WAS a hero and that it must have been a huge decision for him to stay in that ship...he knew it was goin to sink. when the movie first came out, i was one of the teen-age girls who became somewhat infatuated with the movie and it's star...but i still loved the charac ter of thomas andrews. he seemed to be very valient and i'm glad that victor was chosen to play his part. but when one of you had said that they were mad about him not getting the star role, you have to remember, it's hollywood. it could have become a great film either way, and i think that if there is anyone out there who didn't like the film because of jack and rose is just stupid. the effects and reality and emotion that was in this movie was so great and overwhelming that it can't be denied. thomas andrews SHOULD have had a bigger part i agree considering he was the ship builder, and i think that it was especially emotional for me the last time you see mr. andrews. he was standing his ground, refusing to budge from his ship that he believed to be unsinkable. i thought that alone was such a great effort of heroism. thomas andrews truly was the greater man.

please e-mail me if someone replies to my comments..i may not be back to see it and i would like to see any comments anyone has.

-- Jackie (, March 09, 1999.

Hi, my name is Thomas Andrews. I typed it into a search page and came up with your discussion site. Nice to see I have so many admirers out there... By the way, I don't know what all this Titanic stuff is about, I've never designed a ship in my life. Anyway, keep up the discussion, I'll pop in every now and again to see how things are going. cheers Tom

-- Thomas Andrews (, December 14, 2000.

Hello Tom. Famous name you have there. Mr. Andrews ( Tommie ) is not forgotten. If ever you have read "Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder" you would see Mr. Andrews had quite an accomplished life. The man had a kind soul.


-- Denise D. Vanaria (, March 22, 2004.

Something inside me cries of deep empathy for this man Thomas Andrews. His heart was not only in his job as a brilliant designer, but he had a heart for people and proved this when he gave up his place to a woman in distress. After some research into his life and project with the Titanic, he comes across with indesputable integrity, of which should never have been questioned or doubted in the the first place! He certainly holds a place in my heart as a good and genuine man who was a conscientios and objective thinker.

-- Anne White (, March 12, 2005.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ