Evolution of the PSFG

The Preston SF Group has been active since 1982, and attracts people interested in Science Fiction, Comics, and Horror fiction. Many are fans but there is a high proportion of creators who regularly attend. BRYAN TALBOT, the creator of the award winning "Luther Arkwright" comic, attends every meeting if he is not being wined and dined by some exotic comics convention. DAVE WINDETT, comics artist and illustrator, also attends regularly.

STEPHEN GALLAGHER, the author of "The Boat House", "Rain", "Down River" and "Valley of Lights", among many others, also attends all meetings. A few years ago Steve adapted an early novel, "Chimera", to be serialised on TV.

Authors who make reasonably regular appearances include DAVID MACE author of "Shadow Hunters", "Frankenstein's Children" and "The Highest Ground", and RAMSEY CAMPBELL, Britain's most respected Horror Author.

Among the other comic's creators who often attend are LEO BAXENDALE (inventor of "The Bash Street Kids" and "Minnie The Minx" and other BEANO and WHAM characters), DAVE TAYLOR artist for MARVEL UK and 2000AD artists like CARL CRITCHLOW (also famous for "Thrudd The Barbarian"), and JOHN RIDGWAY (also known for his Dr Who strips). Graphic illustrators JIM PITTS, JASON HURST and MARTIN McKENNA are also regular attendees. JOHN COULTHART, the artist on the banned, Manchester based, Lord Horror comic also often attends.

People come to the Group to mix with people with like interests - people who recognise the books and films SF fans like to talk about. But above all it is a place to enjoy yourself and have a few drinks in a convivial atmosphere.

At least once a month the Group has a guest speaker who entertains us and suffers the ordeal of questions ("Where do you get your wacky and zany ideas?" has been banned by the way!). Entry is Free even when there is a speaker and there is a free newsletter (KIMOTA) most meetings.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GROUP

 

The Group has changed location many times. Not, it must be stressed, because we were barred, but because the venues became too small or the landlords took us for granted and started asking for money!

On Wednesday the 2nd of June 1982 five people met at the insistent request of one Lawrence Dean in the LAMB & PACKET public house on Friargate in Preston. This was the beginning of ten years of meetings for the Preston Speculative Fiction Group. From the initial membership of five where there is now a floating membership of over two hundred. Lawrence had phoned up everyone in the Preston area who was a member of the British SF Association and persuaded them to meet every two weeks.

When the Lamb & Packet became too busy and noisy the Group started to feel squashed. The next venue was THE GUILD TAVERN in October '82. Through Lawrence's efforts and word of mouth advertising the Group continued to grow to about 10 people. It was around this time that Bryan Talbot joined.

THE BLACK HORSE

 

In January 1983 the Group moved to the BLACK HORSE pub in Friargate. This pub had (and still has) small rooms that were just suited to the numbers of the Group at that time (about 12). It was in the Black Horse that the Group first started to have regular guests, of which BOB SHAW was the first on the 11th of May 1983.

Due to having guests and a continually increasing membership, the manager of the Black Horse offered the upstairs room to the Group free of charge every second Wednesday. This suited the Group down to the ground, as there was a bar and the room and it was large enough to have guests in. Stephen Gallagher had been to one early meeting and was an active member of the Bolton SF Group for years, however he swapped allegiances and became a regular attendee at the Black Horse meetings.

Unfortunately, when the management of the pub changed they started to want payment for the room. The Group thought about charging admission to pay for this extra cost, but this went against the philosophy of the Group and it was thought better to find a new haunt.

In 1987 we moved to the STANLEY ARMS, which offered us an upstairs room with bar. The room was larger than The Black Horse so Lawrence had room to expand his book-stall and we had guests like Richard O'Brien who packed the room and entertained us with songs. Lawrence's book stall worked really well for raising cash for the Group, but when Lawrence's job required him to move to Canterbury, no-one had the stamina to cart tens of heavy boxes up to the meetings every two weeks.


So everything was fine for a couple of years. Eventually, however, the Stanley started taking the Group's trade for granted and refused us the use of the room on some nights we didn't have a guest. This made it difficult to talk, or set up stalls or do anything else on the spur of the moment.

THE BODEGA

 

So, in November 1989, we moved to THE BODEGA WINE BAR, in Cannon Street. This bar only opened for the Group on a Wednesday, so we had free run of a giant function room with bar and an even bigger downstairs bar. This and the friendship of the manager, Arthur, made it a wonderful venue. However, the snows of 1989 damaged the roof and the owner did not seem prepared to fix it. We struggled on expecting the roof of the upstairs bar to collapse on us at any time. The place was sold, and even though there were assurances that the new owner would keep the arrangements the same, it closed. It has recently reopened as an Italian Restaurant.

The Group had a brief re-acquaintance with THE BLACK HORSE, but it was too small for the enlarged membership, and we really couldn't have too many guests. Though we did get Diana Wynne Jones along for an intimate evening in the posh bar upstairs. Her talk was given from a bar stool to a crowded room.

THE CHURCH STREET TAVERN

 

In November 1990 the Group moved to THE BEARS PAW in Church Street. It had a large function room and we stayed long enough for it to change its name to THE CHURCH STREET TAVERN.


 While the pub was being refurbished and the changing its name for a couple of months we were offered the hospitality of the upstairs room in the NASEEB Indian Restaurant over the road from The Bears Paw, which was a delight, having Boddingtons and free Indian nibbles.


We went back to The Church Street Tavern, but in January 1995 we left due to double booking and nights without a bar. These barless nights were strange. Upstairs, without a bar were twenty to thirty people, who had to go downstairs where there were two barmen and NO customers.


RECENT VENUES

 

Anyway in February 1995 we made the move back to the Bodega, although it had name changed to THE FOSSALTO RISTORANTE and the roof was fixed. As you can guess this is an Italian Restaurant - very handy for those meals with guests before meetings. However it was not as convenient as a pub and in August 1995 we moved to The ADELPHI, Fylde Street Preston. This public House near the University has a reasonably sized upstairs room and real ale on tap.

In September 1996, we returned to the function room of the CHURCH STREET TAVERN. A guest beer is usually available, and the management has changed, again. After a group reorganisation we are now meeting at the back of GREYFRIARS.

As of 1999 the group has returned to its roots. Which basically means we sit around and chat, while drinking. The guests are extremely infrequest and very informal, but as we approach our 20s (the group, not the members) we have decided to slow down and take it easy.

Since the middle of 2003 we now meet every first Tuesday of the month.

Jan 2004 - Another pub move, to the Anderton Arms. The middle of Preston now seems to have lost all pubs where talking is actually possible, so we are having to reach further afield.

Oct 2006 - Moved to the Norman Jepson Travel Inn, Table 28.

The current location can be found on the current location page.

If it sounds like the sort of thing that might interest you, why not pop along on one of the meeting nights and give it a try. Remember there is no membership fee and no commitment. See you there!