LONCON, the 1952 London Science Fiction Convention was held primarily at the Royal Hotel, Russell Square (located a hundred yards or so from Russell Square Underground station) over the weekend of Thursday 29th May to Sunday 1st June. The letterhead above gives the White Horse pub, venue for the regular Thursday evening gathering of London's SF fans as the convention mailing address. LONCON was not a residential convention, attendees leaving at the end of each day for their homes and lodgings.

The Royal Hotel had been the venue for the 1951 international convention and would be again for the 1970 UK national convention. It has since been demolished and on the site now stands the Royal National Hotel, currently (2024) the venue for the regular London Comic Marts.

The Royal Hotel in 1970.

The Convention Committee were:


E.J.(Ted) Carnell
Frank Arnold
Charles Duncombe
Mike WilsonA.Vincent Clarke
Fred BrownDaphne Buckmaster
Ted Tubb Dorothy Jacobs (at her first con)
Jim Ratigan

Total attendance at the convention was around the 200 mark. Some people only attended the Thursday and/or Friday sessions at the White Horse while some only attended the Saturday and Sunday sessions at the Royal Hotel, the list of confirmed attendees below having been gleaned from accounts of both, from photos, and also from deciphering signatures on an extensively autographed copy of the programme book. The list of registered members in the Post-Con Report (link below) may include non-attendees.

Ben Abas
Frank Arnold
Norman Ashfield
Eric Bentcliffe
Brian Berry
Syd Bounds
Fred Brown
John Brunner
Daphne Buckmaster
Ron Buckmaster
Pam Buckmaster
Ken Bulmer
Jim Burch
Brian Burgess
Freda Busfield
Bert Campbell
Eileen Campbell
Peter Campbell
Ken Chapman
Fred Clarke
Vince Clarke
Dave Cohen
Tony Cooper
Ron Deacon
Don Doughty
Philip Duerr
Charlie Duncombe
George Ellis
Paul Enever
R.A. Fairthorne
Frank Fears
Les Flood
Dave Gardner
Kerry Gaulder
Denis Gifford
John Gutteridge
Peter Hawkins
Arthur Hillman
Alan Hunter
Joyce Hunter
Dorothy Jacobs
Terry Jeeves
Bill Jesson
Les Johnson
Dick Jones
Eric Jones
Max Leviten
Audrey Lovett
Dave McIlwain
R. G. Medhurst
Frank Milnes
Jim Mooney
Dan Morgan
Sigvard Ostlund
Mary Patchett
Peter Phillips
Derek Pickles
Marjorie Pickles
Mavis Pickles
Ken Potter
Jim Ratigan
Peter Ridley
Fred Robinson
John Roles
J. Michael Rosenblum
Bill Temple
Tony Thorne
Ted Tubb
Ina Shorrock
Norman Shorrock
Norman Wansborough
Norman Weedall
James White
Betty White
Tom White
A.E. "Taffy" Williams
Eric Williams
Walt Willis
Dave Wood
The following report has been edited together from those written by Walt Willis, Vince Clarke and Fred Robinson with additional material primarily from others noted in source notes, in an effort to give as complete a picture of the convention as possible. My own notes and bridging pieces are in italics.

Source notes, acknowledgements, and complete versions of the reports used in this composite can be found here.

Most of the photos presented here come from the collection of Vince Clarke, though this doesn't mean a particular picture was taken by him (most of those from Vince were probably taken by Fred Robinson). Where recorded, the collection photos are from is noted in parentheses thus: (ejc) Ted Carnell, (eb) Eric Bentcliffe, (avc) Vince Clarke. As always, a tip of the hat to Peter Weston for identifying many of the people in these photos and for supplying some of them in the first place.

Here are links to pages devoted to the individual days and also to 'sidebar' material connected with the convention.



It began, of course, some months ago; an agony of sitting at a 'White Horse' table surrounded by fans discussing intensely interesting topics and reading intensely interesting magazines whilst we grimly debated the questions of films and hotels and charges and the unaccountable disappearance of Bill Temple every time he was approached with a request for a Convention speech.

Things began to come to a boil the Sunday before the Con. I managed to get away from the topic of NEW WORLDS long enough to persuade Ted Carnell to write the Programme introduction, spent most of the rest of the day explaining to Jim Ratigan why he couldn't have solid blacks on his programme design. All but one page of the programme was finished by Monday night, when we three with Dorothy Jacobs [Jim's future wife], Frank Arnold and Ted Tubb met at the 'White Horse' for envelope addressing.

I was cursed for not completing the programme, explained that I'd wait till the last possible minute in case of alterations. It turned out that the major change in the set-up since the previous Thursday was in the text already duplicated. I didn't recover from this till on the train back, when I had the stuff spread out on my knees and was making notes. The chap sitting next to me was eyeing it in a very interested fashion; I gave him an encouraging look, he asked me where to get to the Con., and Bingo! I'd caught another fan. Reading for some years, never seen a U.S. edition, never heard of Ken Slater; a real neo-fan. I noted his address (2-3 miles from home), returned in an exhilarated frame of mind which lasted till 5 am., when the last page of programme fluttered into the duplicator tray.

Went to bed for a few hours (wish I was like fan John Phillifent, a four-hours-per-night sleeper), arose to staple and post the stuff. Some I took up to Secretary Arnold by bicycle, and must have nearly reached the speed of light, because the thing acquired infinite mass the last couple of furlongs back. Wrote to Walt Willis in Belfast, James White in Paris, arranging a rendezvous in London on Friday.

Major event Wednesday was appearance of Richard Vowles, the neo-fan, on a motorcycle that looked like a 2052 model, I talked myself hoarse for a couple of hours on SF and fandom, carefully explaining that fans were the cream of the earth, sane, progressive, intelligent, and readers of SFN. He dashed off at about 11.15 pm., just when I was getting into the primary stages of the subject.

Thursday ... put all programme stencils back on duplicator to run off a few more copies. There's no messier job on Earth, tho' I hear there's a Messier nebulae. Loaded with programmes I battle to get inside the 'White Horse' that evening, but then things get hazy. There's a dim recollection of meeting Derek Pickles, looking twice life size, being introduced to the new Mrs Pickles and a collection of photos of ordinary, well-fed looking types whom DP assured me were US fans [while] Mike Rosenblum of Leeds was talking volumes at the bar.

Sigvard Ostlund of Norway, Dave Cohen, Eric Bentcliffe, Norman Weedall and lots of others from oop North, plus many London Circleites who don't usually appear more than once a quarter brought the total attendance to 60 or 70. The Con. Committee escaped to the privacy of the Public Bar, and the last thing I remember doing is staggering home with a suitcase full of auctionable NEW WORLDS originals.