The Kettering Conventions

This website was originally constructed as an informative for Cytricon V, a small science fiction convention held in October 2008. It still holds much of the information pertinent to that event, but also has a lot of historical background on the Kettering conventions of the 1950s. Any information, especially photographs, will be very welcome indeed. Please do not assume we know what you know!

Contact me, Greg Pickersgill, via this address

August 2008

Cytricon V


3rd-5th October 2008 

a Convention Re-enactment Society production


PW at Kettering.jpg

contact PETER WESTON (the MC) here
or Greg Pickersgill (little helper) here

scroll down for an updated - 27th September - News section
including the Final Progress Report

The Cytricon V Programme Book is here


After the Eastercon this year someone said - "I'd love to go to a 1970s-style convention again. Or even to an early Mexicon, where sf and fandom were treated as one and the same, indivisible. I'd even be happy with a MiScon event where everyone did everything and there was a presumption that we were all interested in sf and fandom. Is it possible to re-do any of that, albeit for a smaller and ever-shrinking audience? I even want Peter Weston to run or even licence his ReRePeterPeterCon just so us over-40s have somewhere to be in a warm puddle of shared enthusiasms."

And someone else said - "There's always the George at Kettering. Is there still time to celebrate the 1958 Cytricon IV? I don't see why fans of an uncertain age should be excluded provided they dress-up in clothes of the period and can handle a zap gun."

And then Peter Weston said "And just like that, fans, it seems we're going to have a 50th anniversary celebration at Kettering. Eileen and I visited the George and walked around consulting old photographs and trying to work out where so much fannish merriment had taken place. Some things have changed - the Devil's Kitchen is now the reception area and it looks like the original bar has been ripped out. However the main con hall seems almost unaltered and I walked around touching the pillars in awe - this was where the BSFA was founded! But gosh, wasn't it small!"

"Call it Cytricon V, I thought , and contacted and invited everyone who attended a Kettering event and all those people who were around at the time but somehow never got to Kettering. It's also open to more recent fans who understand the deep mythic significance of Kettering to fannish culture."


The George Hotel, Kettering, site of the 1958 Eastercon, and before that the 1955, 1956 and 1957 events. Yes, the very same hotel in the same town.

Go here for  information on the hotel in 2008,

and here to wallow in nostalgia for the Golden Age with a hotel brochure from the 1950s and some contemporary fanphotos, and some links to other potentially interesting related stuff including a list of sf novels of 1958, which you are urged to examine...and, to invoke the right state of mind, several CONVENTION REPORTS  from Cytricons past


Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th October, 2008.
The idea is that all the happy fans will arrive on the Friday afternoon, in time for a get-together from 6.30 p.m. onwards.  Programme events are all on Saturday, so you will be able to leave on Sunday at any time to suit yourself.


Forget all the usual bureaucratic conrunner stuff, there's no registration, no membership fee, no booking form. This is what you have to do -

Contact the George Hotel at 01536 518620 (Fax 01536 485407) and either ask for Melanie Ingram, duty manager, or specifically mention the '50th Reunion Convention' when making your booking for Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th October. This will get the special 10% discount on room rates. The email address is:-

FYI - the George's basic rates are £65.00 per room for double/twin (including breakfast & VAT), and £45.00 per single.  We get 10% off in both cases. There may be minor variations in actual room rates but the discount will apply in all cases.

Please note, your booking, and any queries you may have about the hotel is entirely your responsibility. There is no concom, and no central booking, and no 'hotel liason' except in the most rudimentary form, or as a last resort for real problems.


As of 27th September 2008 -

The Final Progress Report has been issued and the MC says

It's less than a week now until Cytricon V and I'm sending this final Progress Report so you know what to expect.

The Con Suite
Well, that's what the Americans call it, but we're not that fancy.  Everything happens in the main hall - programme, displays, socialising, dinner.  That's because the hotel has done away with the former lounges and the other public areas are open to, well, the public.  So we'll hide in our own self-contained facility - you get to it through the restaurant - and yes, we do have a bar.

Come Early
I'm expecting to be setting-up in the hall from early Friday afternoon onwards so come and say hello as soon as you arrive (and especially if you're bringing fannish artefacts).  You can pick-up your badge and programme book at the same time.  The idea is to assemble at 6.30 so we can all meet and have a chat before sitting down for dinner at 7.30.

Dinner Menu
Make your choices for Friday & Saturday and tell the hotel when you check-in.  It's a fixed-price (£17.50) which they'll put on your bill, so you'll only need to pay for drinks on the night(s).

Those Artefacts...
Ina's bringing her beanies, I'm bringing Ken Bulmer's armour, Greg will have some ancient fanzines, Andy & George are bringing books & magazines, (some for show and others for sale). Susie has more of Ken's 'rubbitch'; what do you have that will recapture times past?  Lots of table & wall space will be available.

Our three moderators are limbering-up, at least one of our panellists has done some homework, and we're hoping for a lot of audience-participation.  All programme items take place on Saturday.

Looking the part
Still time for Greg & Mark to have short-back-&-sides, I have a sports-jacket somewhere (though can't do up the buttons) and Jim's wearing a leather jacket and jeans.  Ladies, have you chosen which hat to wear?

The George has room for twenty cars, they tell me, though it looks a bit tight.  If full, there's a public car-park across the road.  From the station, it's about 300 yards to the top of the road and the George is on the corner.

Anything Else?
Don't forget I'm asking for £5.00 per head for 'registration'; there have been a few expensees.

That's about it - see you next weekend!

Peter Weston


Previously on this channel...

The MD has done the badges (there will be badges, some of you people haven't seen each other for decades, if ever at all in some cases...). There will be a Programme Book (breaking the tradition of Cytricons III and IV which didn't have such things), and of course a PROGRAMME ! Which you will all attend, oh yes. Simply putting a bunch of fans into a room and leaving them to it is rarely the course to joy, so a certain degree of organised activity is essential to ensure all leave with a sense of shared experience and wisdom.

The intention is that we will all have the evening meal together in the hotel on Friday and Saturday, menu here.

Collect your badge, etc, on Friday evening.  There will be an admin cost of £5.00 per head to cover various costs (printing, tea & coffee, a few other items).   Any surplus will be spent at the bar!

Anything you can think of to enrich the general atmosphere of fannish jollity will be a Good Thing!   



By ROAD - If you're driving, take junction 7 off the A14, (a fast dual-carriageway), follow signs into town until a large roundabout at the bottom of the hill, turn right (not signposted) and keep going.

The George is on the left-hand corner as you enter the town centre, right opposite the parish church (the tall spire you can see for miles).

The hotel car-park holds about 20 cars; when full the staff will direct you to the public park, right across the road.

By RAIL - Walk straight ahead out of the station, up a gentle slope and again, The George is on the left-hand corner.

This may be the last update report.
Unless the hotel burns down...
Or we get Robert Presslie as Pro GoH...

Right then, we'll be seeing you in a few days, most definately.


Peter Mabey and Ina Shorrock are joint GoHs at Cytricon V.
Survivors of the Kettering convention of 1958, they will give us the flavour of a time before some other attendees were actually born, and definately before most of us began fanning.

Peter Mabey -
the Backroom Boy

That reference is of course from Francis Spufford’s super little book, one that should be required reading for all SF fans. Subtitled ‘The Return of the British Boffin’ it tells how Britain has excelled in producing those patient, hard-working types who have come up with some of our greatest scientific and technical ideas.  And without knowing a great deal about Peter Mabey’s real-world life I get the feeling that he’s been one of those boffins, working away in backrooms all these years on truly ground-breaking stuff.

It’s like that in fandom, too; Peter has been around for a long time but because he’s a steady, conscientious, reliable sort of chap he’s not the sort that attracts attention.  Thank goodness he received the Doc Weir Award – the very first time it was given out, in 1963 – for his sterling work in pulling the BSFA library into shape in 1958 and then running it from the Cheltenham basement for the next five years, almost until the group lost their premises.

Peter began reading SF pulps at school in 1938, rapidly moving up to H. G. Wells and on to other things.   Ken Slater put him in touch with Eric Jones in 1955 and he was one of the first to join the Cheltenham Circle, just too late for the first Cytricon.  But Peter went along in 1956 and this subsequently led to his famous ‘chart’, published in Sidereal and recently exhumed in Prolapse-7, which suggested that the downward trend in convention attendances would go into negative figures by 1957!

Happily, these rumours of fandom’s demise were exaggerated although due to family reasons Peter missed the third Kettering con and therefore the first St Fantony ceremony when it took to the boards in 1957.  This was a pity because in the months beforehand he’d been very involved in helping Eric Jones and Bob Richardson create the entire mythos of the Order, although he became a Knight himself through his membership of the Cheltenham Circle.

Peter did come to Cytricon IV and though he doesn’t appear in person on any photograph we have several shots of his highly unusual vehicle – he turned up in a Messerschmidt bubble-car!  And on the Sunday afternoon he was present when the BSFA was formed and (according to Bobbie Wilde’s report) was one of the two Cheltenham fans appointed as librarians for the new Association.

They must have had a great time in that cellar, shuffling the books and magazines, talking science fiction and sharing diverse memories of their war-time experiences; Eric had been in flying boats, Bob was a naval officer on midget submarines and Peter had gone to the Royal Aircraft Establishment for a crash course in structural engineering, working on such things as seats for troop transports.  I get the feeling that they were advocates of the Campbellian tradition of SF, coming from Science/technology backgrounds rather than from the Arts/literary stream which is more common today.

Peter himself was a Maths graduate and even in 1946 was looking for a job in computing, before moving instead into aerospace with Gloster Aircraft.  He went into the structures department – called the Stress Office – developing the Meteor, the first British jet-fighter (the tail unit was unsatisfactory, and a new one had to be designed).

He gained experience on Ferranti ATLAS computer, the biggest in world at the time, and eventually became department head in 1962 with the title of ‘Chief Stress-man'.   He then went on to the Hawker Advanced Projects Group and spent time on a Mach-5 hypersonic ramjet, using a concept “which NASA still haven't got to work 45 years later”.

After that Peter tried for a job at CERN and was invited there for an interview, but they were “looking for a better mathematician than me”.   In 1966 he finally got into computing full-time and joined STC as ‘Computer Consultant’, his skill being “an ability to pick up a language sufficiently quickly to be pretty good at debugging.

Unfortunately, all this meant leaving Cheltenham but at least his new location meant he was able to attend meetings of the SF Club of London, usually meeting at Courage House, Ethel Lindsay’s Nurses’ Home in Surbiton.   And that led naturally (and unavoidably, if I know Ella!) into the job of Publicity Officer for the second London worldcon in 1965.   This saw the third major outing for St Fantony, and Peter was Master of the Rolls at the induction ceremony that year, a position he has held for subsequent initiations.

He has rarely missed an Eastercon and can always be found in the science-oriented programme topics.  


Ina Shorrock -
fannish superwoman!

“I was in love with Ina,” sighed Jim Linwood.  “We all were.”

And who could have blamed them? Lovely Ina, Hostess with the Mostest, was the ever-smiling heart of the Liverpool group and she was at the very centre of British fandom all through the fifties and sixties.

In 1947 Ina Picken was nineteen and already a secret SF reader when she went to a neighbour’s party and amazingly – because he lived on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey – she met Norman.  Was it love at first sight?  Well, maybe, but after they’d been courting for six months the romance literally took off when she saw a copy of Astounding in his sports-coat pocket.  Wow! – they both read science fiction! “After that I had to marry him, for his collection,” Ina said.

The river was but a minor obstacle and after work Norman would come across on the tube (you forgot Liverpool had an Underground, didn’t you?) and Ina would meet him at the station.  One time he had a nose-bleed and was late and while Ina was pacing back and forward outside the station she was told by another female to "push off, this is my pitch!”

They married in 1950 and moved the collection into a little flat on Norman’s side of the river, and soon afterwards various dodgy characters started to turn up who he'd met on his trips to Frank Milnes’ Milcross bookshop, people like Les Johnson and Norman Weedall.  So Ina was in the Liverpool Science Fiction Society from the start , when it was formed in November 1951, throwing her first fan-party for the group that Christmas despite having given birth to daughter Janet earlier that year.

After that came their first con in 1952, decorating the Space Dive, more parties, and an unending stream of visitors from all parts of British fandom and beyond, most of whom spent the night on Ina’s floor.  She was our first costumer as a Bergey girl at the 1954 Supermancon (see above, with the Fred Smith Monster).  She was a Space Warrior Woman at Cytricon, and she wore a coat of green paint as a Krishnan in 1956.  In a scene for the LāSFāS film ‘May We Have The Pleasure’ (shown at the first London worldcon) the camera zoomed-in on Ina lying in a bubble-bath; “It’s no good, love,” said Norman after a tricky bit of filming, “we’ll have to have that top off.”

So, all round good sport, yes, but to mention a more serious side Ina did her time as effectively the first chairman of the BSFA, for two years, 1960-62 (Dave Newman was elected in 1958 but gafiated without striking a blow), something she may tell us about on Saturday.  And, of course, she carried on reading Astounding.

What else?  Oh, I forgot to mention the other four children (Linda, Alan, Roy and Gavin) who somehow managed to arrive despite the Shorrock’s busy social life. And the damson gin (already a legend when I entered fandom) which would be teleported into Shorrock room parties in innumerable plastic containers.

Ina was knighted a Lady of St Fantony at the very first initiation at Kettering in 1957, she won the ‘Doc Weir’ Award in 1976 (about ten years late!), and a special Nova Award at Novacon 33 for ‘Fifty Years in Fandom’.

Sadly, Norman passed away in 1999 but Ina has hardly missed an Eastercon and she still gophers most years.  Unbelievably, however, she has never before been asked to be Guest of Honour.  Well, we can put that right.  Here’s to you, Ina, Fannish Superwoman!  


ATTENDING - as of 2nd October. It does seem unfortunate that as of the moment we have not got as many attendees as Cytricon IV; but you can still join, ACT NOW! It's only too late tomorrow!

James Bacon
Doug Bell

Sandra Bond
Claire Brialey
John Dallman
Keith Freeman
Wendy Freeman
Steve Green

Rob Hansen
Eve Harvey
John Harvey
Susie Haynes

Christina Lake
Dave Langford
Jim Linwood
Marion Linwood
George Locke
Rita Locke


Peter Mabey
Mike Meara
Pat Meara

Anne Patrizio
Joe Patrizio
Rog Peyton
Catherine Pickersgill
Greg Pickersgill
Mark Plummer
David Redd
Andy Richards

Alan Rispin
Doreen Rogers
Mike Scott
Gavin Shorrock
Ina Shorrock

Eileen Weston
Peter Weston