THOMAS ANDREWS’ OLYMPIC NOTES, 1911
When the Olympic was making her successful maiden voyage in the summer of 1911, Thomas Andrews was aboard to record notes for possible improvements. Some of these would be applied to Olympic as she continued her run of great success in 1911, while others would be incorporated in time for the Titanic’s completion by the following spring 1912. It is probable that many of these changes would have been born in mind and included in the specifications of Britannic.
There were reportedly three sets of copies of Andrews’ notes taken on the Olympic’s maiden voyage a copy for the White Star Line, a copy for Harland & Wolff, and Thomas Andrews’ personal copy. I was fortunate to come into possession of some of Andrews’ notes in the summer of 2004 (courtesy of that ‘nice guy from
Update: Work to reassemble the entirety of Andrews’ notes is ongoing. This has included obtaining notes 1 to 4; 21 to 27; and 56. This leaves numbers 28 to 55 inclusive missing. (March 2021). If you are able to shed any light on this or are aware of the missing notes, please: Contact Mark Chirnside's Reception Room
For the notes avaialble below, the original spelling and grammar have broadly been retained, although there are a number of unreadable words. Andrews also had a habit of referring to the cane furniture onboard Olympic as ‘caine’ furniture. My particular thanks to Bruce Beveridge for his kind efforts in sending me his transcript. Several ‘assumed’ words are in capital letters, and some of my own comments are provided in red:
The following year, Andrews was onboard the Titanic to make similar notes for improvement. If anything, the new ship appeared to be performing even better than the Olympic the year before. The engines were performing well, she was making excellent time, and passengers’ comments praised the new liner’s luxury, safety and comfort. Even so, Andrews busied himself trying to improve the smallest of details. Shan Bullock writes: ‘For more than a week he had been working at such pressure, that by the Friday evening [April 12th 1912] many saw how tired as well as sad he looked: but by the Sunday evening, when his ship was as perfect, so he said, as brains could make her, he was himself again.’ Later that evening, Titanic’s collision with an iceberg sealed the ship’s fate, and that Andrews and two-thirds of the people onboard.
One Stewardess saw Andrews shortly after the collision and thought that he looked ‘heartbroken.’ Upon advising Captain Smith of the ship’s situation, Andrews assisted with the evacuation. Bullock records a popular legend, writing that after : ‘an assistant steward saw him standing alone in the smoking room, his arms folded over his breast and the [life] belt lying on a table near him. The Steward asked him: “Aren’t you going to have a try for it, Mr. Andrews?” He never answered or moved, “just stood like one stunned.”’ There is no evidence that he tried to save himself.
My thanks to Bruce Beveridge, Mark Evans and Ray Lepien for their kind assistance.
Bullock, Shan F. Thomas Andrews: Shipbuilder.
 Lepien, Ray. ‘Westward Crossing.’ The Titanic Commutator 2003; Issue 162: Pages 110-115. An outstanding article on Olympic’s maiden voyage.