THE MANCHESTER-LONDON FEUD

The CORONCON was held against the background of a simmering feud betwwen Londoners and Northerners in general - but Manchester fans specifically - over the future of the annual convention. Some knowledge of this is necessary to fully understand all that went on there and the tone of some subsequent reports on the event. To aid in this, here's Eric Bentcliffe's editorial from the issue of SPACE TIMES that appeared before CORONCON.

Note: This page is by way of a marker for much fuller coverage of the feud and of relative documents that will appear here eventually.

A MATTER OF CONVENTION
by
Eric Bentcliffe.

Some few months ago in a valiant attempt to settle the conventional disagreements that have been making fandom rather an unhappy place, Vince Clarke brought out, "Initiative Incorporated", a circular addressed to the folk who do things in British Fandom. The object of "I.Inc." was to air and settle the grievances about who should hold the two-day conventions in the years to come, and what system of voting or rota should be used. Unfortunately, due to the fact that no two people could agree on any one thing, "I.Inc." was a failure. However, this question of Convention sites is still to be settled, and whilst we do not intend to give ST over to comment and argument on the matter, we should like to know what you think is the answer to the following problems.

  1. The London fans, with few exceptions, are against the idea of a major convention being hold outside London.
  2. Northern Fans, again with few exceptions, do not believe that they should have to travel to London every Whitsun and think it only fair that Conventions should be held elsewhere.
  3. How should the next Con site be chosen???
There you have the three main points that must be decided upon. Let's have your opinions. As there is nearly half a page of editorial space remaining, you are now going to get ours. Let it be understood here that those are the opinions of the Editor, and not necessarily those of any other member of the Space-Times Staff.

At the Convention last year, an announcement regarding the Mancon was made, at the same time people who lived in London, but who were prepared to travel up to Manchester for the day, were asked to raise their hands. Some thirty people did so....YET, only one person from London actually showed up that day...More aunts died that day than ever before in history. We agree that (as, several London Fans pointed out) Manchester is a long way from London. However, we might point out that it is the same distance both ways... We know, we have attended the last two London Conventions. The first one we thoroughly enjoyed, the second tho' was not so hot, most of the visitors from abroad who helped to make the '51 show go with a swing, were absent in '52. And the organisers showed themselves to be lacking in new ideas, in fact not one new idea was instituted at this show. This is one of the reasons why we are in favour of a different Con' site each year, because this would (or should) mean a fresh viewpoint each convention. It has been claimed that London, because it has a large floating body of Fans (anyone got a pin ?)and SF authors, is the logical place to hold a convention. That it's the place where all the big names live!! This is pure hokum. We can think of only eight people in London sufficiently well-known to deserve this tag. AND, only because we are an inveterate fan, can we think of those. IF, as is suggested by the London circle, "It's the big names who attract the fans", then the North of England Who can muster far more active fans (as has been admitted by London) and just as many name author, is the obvious site for a convention.....

We might mention here that we believe that fans do not go to conventions just to see the 'high mukka-muks', but rather to meet the people with whom they correspond and to find out what's new and what can be bought in the publishing world. The science-fiction reading public (as distinct from rabid fans) might well attend a conventicn to hear the mighty words from the big man's lips, BUT to the British reading public the Big Names are King Lang, Gill Hunt et al. At what convention do you find these names mentioned ?????? Lack of space, rather than invective must now bring this diatribe to a close. If it has provoked you in any way, I am pleased, because if you are a Fan who lives in the North, it is as much in your interest as ours that these matters be decided upon. Or would you rather sit in a chair and just read about conventional doings.???????????

from SPACE TIMES vol 2 no 4 Apr '53