Ansible logo on London SF Meetings

When and Where?

The "London Group", "London Circle" or just "First Thursday" open sf/fan pub meetings in London, a continuing tradition since 1946, take place on the First Thursday evening of each month. Exceptions are noted below. Meetings run from 4pm or 5pm when people begin to arrive, and continue until closing time at 11pm or later. All are welcome. There is no admission fee.

As of April 2016 the regular venue is The Bishop's Finger, 9-10 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9JR.

    London Calendar
  • 30 October 2016 • Paperback and Pulp Fair, Royal National Hotel – announced here; scroll down for poster with details
  • 3 November 2016 • First Thursday
  • 12-13 November 2016 • Starship Engineer Workshops, British Interplanetary Society HQ
  • 16 November 2016 • ZZ9
  • 1 December 2016 • First Thursday
  • 3 December 2016 • Dragonmeet (gaming), Hammersmith
  • 15 December 2016 • Christmas Meeting at the Bishop's Finger
  • 21 December 2016 • ZZ9
  • 5 January 2017 • First Thursday
  • 18 January 2017 • ZZ9
  • 2 February 2017 • First Thursday
  • 8 February - 3 September 2017 • Robots: 500 Years of Humanoid Robots (exhibition), Science Museum
  • 15 February 2017 • ZZ9

Exceptions to the First-Thursday schedule

Roger Robinson is the "owner" of the meeting as far as the current pub is concerned, and regularly books the bar for First Thursdays.

Christmas Meeting – a second gathering each December, traditionally on the Thursday before Christmas Eve but sometimes a week earlier for greater general convenience. Someone needs to inform the pub well in advance. For 2016, the expected date is 15 December. Check this page nearer the time, just in case.

New Year – if 1 January (the UK New Year's bank holiday, with the country in shutdown mode) should be a Thursday, the January meeting is traditionally displaced to 8 January. This last happened in 2015 and will happen again in 2026.

Maundy Thursday – the London meeting takes place as usual but is likely to be somewhat depleted if the annual UK Easter SF Convention (Eastercon) is far from London.

Extra Meetings may be declared at more or less any time by anyone who can persuade enough people to turn up – to meet some sf celebrity passing briefly through London, for example. It would be wise to check with the pub in advance. The most recent such meeting was on Thursday 21 August 2014 for the benefit of overseas visitors to the London Worldcon.

Fallback Venue

Should The Bishop's Finger be closed or otherwise unavailable, the meeting moves to whatever nearby pub can accommodate us. The Sir Christopher Hatton, used for the Christmas 2005 meeting when it was The Goose, is one possibility. Another is The Castle at 34-35 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6DB, used for the May and June 2015 meetings during refurbishment at The Melton Mowbray. Yet another is The Inn of Court (formerly The Melton Mowbray), 18 Holborn, London, EC1N 2LE, which was the regular First Thursday venue from 2006 to 2016.

What Are the Rules?

The meetings are open to all. Informality prevails. There are no talks or events, just a lot of people drinking and chattering. On first Thursdays, sf fans are present from 5pm or even earlier. If nervous, look for reprobates fingering proofs of British SF Association publications or handing out sinister sheets of paper – convention flyers or fanzines.

If you prefer more structured events, centred on a talk, panel or interview, try the monthly BSFA meetings held on the fourth Wednesday of each month except for December.

Other London Meetings

Regular/Annual Events in London

British SF Association (BSFA) Open Meetings traditionally take place on the fourth Wednesday of the month (but quite often switch to other Wednesdays, so always check first). Traditionally there is no December meeting. Meetings nominally begin at 7pm, with fans likely to be present from 5pm onward. Non-BSFA members are welcome; there is no admission fee. Speakers are announced on the BSFA site and/or the infrequently updated BSFA LiveJournal Page, and published – when announcement timing permits – in the current Ansible.

BSFA Venue. From August 2013 to November 2015, these meetings were at The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND: pub details here. In January 2016 there was a late change to the upstairs room of The Reliance, 336 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DR: pub details here. This was not entirely satisfactory owing to noise from the downstairs bar and its juke-box; the meeting returned to The Artillery Arms in February.

British Fantasy Society Open Meetings are held every few months – see their website for the latest information (and check frequently since announcements are often at short notice). All are welcome. These meetings generally run from 6pm (for an official 7:30pm start time). Locations vary. Recent choices include The Mug House under London Bridge and The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker in St John Street. See the BFS Events page.

The Broken Drummers (Discworld) – "We meet on the first Monday of each month at The Monkey Puzzle, 30 Southwick Street, Sussex Gardens, W2 1JQ. Nearest stations Paddington and Edgeware Road." Free to all; official start 7pm but some arrive earlier. These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page.

City Illiterates meetings are held every Friday – again, not public holidays etc; Good Friday is the obvious example – "in the Windmill Public House in Mill Street (just south of Oxford Circus, off Conduit Street which is off Regent Street) ... usually there are people there from around 18.00 to around 19.30 ... we're usually in the ground floor back room," writes Brian Ameringen. All welcome, but note that it's a very small and informal gathering, much less obvious than the first-Thursday crowd. These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page.

Filk Meetings, which seem to be irregular, are documented at Rafe Culpin's website: These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page.

London Fortean Society meetings – see link. These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page, except occasionally by special request or whim.

London Sci-Fi Pub Meet – I didn't hear of this one until 2011 (and its habitués had apparently never heard of the various older meetings), but it seems to have been going for a while as a Saturday afternoon/evening event, monthly at The Shakespeare's Head, Holborn. See title link for dates; unfortunately this now requires a Facebook login, excluding those who don't care to sign up there. These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page.

London Skeptics in the Pub: UK sceptical movement meetings (there is or was some overlap with sf fandom) are regularly held in London. Dates and times may vary: always check their website. As of July 2010 the current London venue is The Monarch Bar, 40-42 Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, NW1 8BG. Non-sceptics are welcome; there is a small admission fee. The Skeptic website events page also lists similar meetings in other cities. • Pub details These meetings are not listed in the calendar at top right of this page.

ZZ9 (Hitchhiker's Guide) currently has London pub meetings on the third Wednesday of the month – pub details here, general events diary here.

History of London SF Meetings

Much of the older historical information above is taken from Rob Hansen's history of British fandom, Then.