At 309 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15, a busy thoroughfare, stands a three-story brick Victorian-era house that was the boyhood home of Captain Laurence Oates (086). (The closest tube station, within healthy walking distance, is East Putney.) On the front facade, near the left corner, is one of those ubiquitous "blue plaques" stating "Captain Laurence Oates 1881-1912 Antarctic Explorer Lived Here." It was unveiled on March 17, 1973, by Dr. G. de Q. Robin, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, and was reported in The Borough News (Putney) on the 23rd. The ceremony was preceded by an informal gathering at Oates' school, Willington, in nearby Colinette Road.
The Oateses moved into the house (then, apparently, numbered 263) in April of 1885. At the time of the plaque unveiling it was called Stroud House and was a Church Army hostel for young men. Today (1995), it is Stroud Lodge, a residential home for the elderly.
L. E. G. "Titus" Oates was in charge of the ponies during Scott's 1910-13 expedition. A member of the polar party, on the return journey he suffered from severe frostbite and scurvy and sacrificed himself on his 32nd birthday when he left the tent in a blizzard saying "I am just going outside and may be some time." This tragic episode is dramatically portrayed in Dollman's painting at The Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, the subject of a future episode of A Low-Latitude Antarctic Gazetteer.
8 March 2000. Webster Forrest e-mailed on 28 Dec 1999 to report that Stroud Lodge is now gone, demolished to make way for something else. The fate of the plaque is unknown.
At one time, not far away, stood Oates' birthplace (476) at 111 Upper Richmond Road. According to Michael Smith, "Oates was born at 3 Acacia Villas, Putney, on March 17th, 1880. The street and number were changed to 93 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, on February 18th, 1881. On June 21st, 1904 it was again re-numbered to No 111 Upper Richmond Road, Putney. It was a boarding house, rented by the Oates especially for Caroline Oates' confinement." Some time ago, probably in the 1970s, the site was swallowed up by a large office complex.