THE THIRD CONVENTION (1939)The Third Convention, like the Second Convention before it, was held in the Ancient Order of Druid's Memorial Hall on London's Lamb's Conduit Street, on May 21st, 1939. This was about 150 yards from 88 Gray's Inn Road aka 'The Flat', later to be the celebrated abode of Arthur C.Clarke, Bill Temple, and Maurice K.Hanson. AOD Memorial Hall would be destroyed in a German bombing raid on 10th May 1941.
This is the only known account of the convention. Text supplied by Greg Pickersgill.
There were reportedly around forty people present, but these are the only names we can be sure of.
TED CARNELL PRESENTS
CONVENTION PARADE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sunny morn after cloudy night before---must be forty odd other fans scattered about the country who feel as tired as I do after yesterday's (May 21) London Convention, for many of them who had to return to the Provinces couldn't have reached home much before the milk.
Physical reaction---throat like a rasp, voice like a bag of rusty nails (two tones below normal), kaleidoscopic eyesight, pumpkin head (not normal), and a backache like none of your business. Mental reaction - to Hades with the aches and pains, it was a swell turnout.
Strange how easy it is to build up a mental pic of distant fans, simply by corresponding with them, reading their articles and/or publications. Can clairvoyantly read their characters by their thoughts. Stranger still how unlike those mental images they turn out to be when eventually met in the raw.
Had previously met the two Liverpool song-birds Dave McBurke and John McIlwain, but.still can't place which is which, names or faces. I had four tries at hitting correctly, but each time they answered with a kind of Flotsam and Jetsam chorus "I'm Johnny, I'm Davy, go fall in a plate of gravy" so I gave it up as a bad job. John, (or perhaps it's Dave), is the tall guy, six feet of sandy nothingness , and Dave (or is it John) is the one with the Hulbertlike jaw. (ED --The mug's wrong)
Having successfully unravelled that problem, I. was introduced in rapid succession to Frank Wilson, Southport; Phil Hetherington, Northumberland; Ronnie Holmes and Eddie Ducker, Liverpool, and then made fourteen guesses at the next face in line with my eyesight. The mystery cleared with a flourish of a pile of FANTASTs. It was CSYoud from Hampshire. I forgot to personally compliment Sam on the production of his new fanmag, so I'm doing it here, and hope that he will continue to bring it out as often as he can.
However, NONE OF THE FANS were at all how I imagined they would be - Heaven only knows what they thought I would be like, but I can well imagine their surprise and disappointment.
I paid a rapid visit to the Flat, to collect The Gang, and found George Ellis and Eric Needham of Manchester browsing on the carpet, what's left of it. A vision of Librarian Harry Kay staggering along under a two-ton payload of books was the next reminder that this was The Day. Back at the joint, G.W.Axworthy of Portsmouth, Mr Rookes of Axminster, Charnock L.V. Walsby Heald, the Jekyll and Hyde of Liverpool, and most of the London crowd had arrived.
Afternoon session was enlivened by Art Clarke's competition between a team of Londoners versus a team of Provincial members, in a general knowledge questionnaire. The out-of-towners won by two points, but the cat-calls and barracking from the audience drowned any attempt at seriousness.
During the interval, several groups formed, the main one being contred around Walt Gillings, always a drawing card at any gathering...Bill Temple fainted when I bought him a lemonade...Maurice Hugi will faint when he reads this, because I have forgotten to mention him yet. How could I forget such a trivial thing? Other authors arriving then were D.J. Foster, and Mr Edwards, whose initials and correct name I. have forgotten.(ED - John, we think?)
W.J. Passingham and Professor Low arrived almost at the same time. Professor Low mentioned to me that he hadn't a single thing ready to speak about, but gave us a 40 minute interesting talk upon many ideas and inventions,, Mr. Passingham also was devoid of notes, but he very quickly worked out some while other speakers were talking, and delivered some very useful advice to would-be authors.
I've often sighed at the thought of our Los Angeles friends having the privilege of sharing quite famous authors at their gatherings. I'm afraid that I have become so accustomed to the friendliness of our own celebrities that I have almost ceased to look upon them as such. Both Prof. Low and Mr Passingham are genuinely interested in stf, and it was quite evident that they thoroughly enjoyed their evening with us. Professor Low overstaying his time by nearly an hour.
Of the other new authors we met for the first time, several joined the Association, as well as a number of new London visitors enrolling also.
It is almost impossible to catalogue the course of events during the Supper. The constantly shifting people, the discussions, the interesting items Mr, Passingham was telling Ken and I, but above all the general air of enjoyment that was prevalent throughout the entire proceedings was a fitting setting to what was literally my swan song to active fandom. As from the Convention and this column, I am dropping out of the over-active side of fandom and becoming just another London fan. NEW WORLDS will continue to appear, as already stated, quarterly, and I shall of course still be present to upset the regular London meetings.
With fandom well on the up-grade in this country, I hope, SFA members will support Sam Youd's new fanmag FANTAST. (ED - We back that - see page 2 for details) Both the FANTAST and SATELLITE have our best wishes - but they want YOUR SUPPORT, Material and contributions - you know where to send them.
Until the next convention ....Adios.
From THE SATELLITE, June 1939, Vol 2 No 6, ed. John F. Burke