By Maurice McAleese
A COUNTY Antrim man found himself in the media spotlight back in February, 1913 when it was learned that the famous Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott, had perished, along with four companions, on the return journey from an expedition to the South Pole.
At the time, James B Love, originally from Kirkhills, near Ballymoney, was living in the house in Devonport in which Scott had been born, having taken up residence some years earlier.
Presumably there was some kind of rental arrangement because the property was still owned by the Scott family. It was in good hands – Love was a close friend of the explorer and had, in fact, entertained him in the old family home shortly before he set off on the Polar expedition which was destined to end so tragically.
Just over a year earlier, on January 18th, 1912, Scott and his companions had succeeded in reaching the South Pole. But two months later, on the return journey, they encountered horrific blizzard conditions and found themselves trapped in the frozen wastes about 155 miles from the base camp at Cape Evans.
It was not until February, 1913, that their bodies were discovered. There was a great outpouring of sympathy for the victims’ families, none more so than Captain Scott’s wife, Kathleen, who had been on her way to New Zealand fully anticipating a happy reunion with her husband.
The news was particularly poignant for the Ballymoney man who, some years earlier, had taken over the Scott family home, ‘Outlands’, situated at Milehouse in Devonport. Love was then a well-known public figure in Devonport, having served for many years as an Alderman on the local Council. Described as “a charming old residence”, Scott was born there on June 6th, 1868.