Belfast Telegraph

Letter extolling the courage of Titanic's architect up for sale

'Grand fellow': Thomas Andrews
'Grand fellow': Thomas Andrews
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Titanic designer Thomas Andrews was praised for his brave, calm and unselfish actions in the face of disaster in a newly revealed letter to be auctioned later this month.

His widow's gold and sapphire engagement ring will also go under the hammer.

Mr Andrews, from Comber in Co Down, was one of nine shipyard engineers travelling on Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

He went down with the ship on April 15, 1912 after it hit a massive iceberg.

It was Andrews who calculated how long it would take for Titanic to sink, and he was also instrumental in helping women and children get into lifeboats.

He left behind his wife of almost four years Helen and their baby daughter Elizabeth.

Five years later Helen married Andrews' former management colleague at Harland & Wolff, Henry Harland.

She had four more children but always kept Andrews' letters, photographs and mementos of their courtship and love.

Her engagement ring from Andrews was passed down to Vera Morrison, Helen's daughter from her second marriage.

Vera passed away last August and her family have decided to sell the 18 carat gold ring - a square cut sapphire surrounded by small diamonds. It has a pre-sale estimate of £12,000.

Speaking in a BBC documentary in 2012, Mrs Morrison said that while her mother never mentioned the tragedy, she must have been devastated by the loss of her first husband. She said: "She was obviously very, very fond of him.

"I think it was a true love match. He must have been brilliant."

In the same auction is a previously unpublished letter, written to Andrews' grief-stricken mother Lizzie weeks after the tragedy.

The letter was sent to Mrs Andrews from her cousin after she visited Titanic stewardess Mary Sloan, who had been put into a lifeboat by the shipbuilder.

Miss Sloan, who died in 1949, was the only woman from Belfast on the ship.

Part of the letter, valued at £3,500, tells of how Miss Sloan could talk about no one but Mr Andrews.

It reads: "She says he was just noble, just as he always was grand fellow, so unselfish and so calm and so brave though he knew the hopelessness of all from the first."

Both items are being sold by Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes in Wiltshire as part of their Titanic and Transport Memorabilia Auction on Saturday, April 27.

Belfast Telegraph


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