CHELTENHAM SCIENCE FICTION CIRCLE (1955 - 1963)

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44 Barbridge Road, home of Eric and Margaret Jones (photo Don Ford)

Geoff Winterman recalls:

I have fond memories of the Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle around 1958 to 1963. Memories of stumbling across the Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle club rooms on London Road just out of the town centre. There used to be a Rolls Royce Dealer at the traffic lights nearby but in 1958 I settled for my trusty Lambretta. I'm not sure how I came to be walking up London Road that dark, wet autumn evening, but I suddenly glimpsed, up a weed strewn path leading to a decrepit Georgian terraced house, a flickering coloured illuminated sign:

"Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle"

I paused, before what was on the sign registered. I initially pictured some seedy strip-joint hiding away there. Science Fiction! I was and still am an avid reader of SF, but up until that point had never heard of Science Fiction Clubs or of 'Fandom', or Groups or conventions.

I cautiously followed the path to the flickering sign, then down some steps and though a door and into a basement room stacked high with hundreds of books - SF Books! I was in an Aladdin's Cave of Science Fiction. Later to learn that this was the BSFA Library. I was greeting by Peter Mabey then the BSFA librarian assisted by someone who I remember as 'Humph'. They were packing books for postal loan. That was Peter Mabey. His warm welcome that miserable night certainly drew me in.


Audrey Eversfield, Eric Jones, Peter Mabey, Margaret Jones, Bob Richardson, John Humphries, Frank Herbert
(photo Keith Freeman)

Through the library into the club room with that amazing wall smothered in graffiti and signatures of the then great and good of British Science Fiction and Fandom. The toilet tucked away behind a door in the corner that if you glanced up you were confronted with a booted foot seemingly coming down from the floor above! Audrey Eversfield was Secretary then, always busy making order out of chaos. I think at some point I fell in love with her but she went off to live in Paris! I did give her a ride on my Lambretta though. SF artist Eddie Jones was about then - bit of a character I recall. I remember Colin Kapp always sucking on his pipe. I was bursting with pride when he asked me to take his photo for the cover of 'New Worlds' that was publishing one of his short stories. The photo was taken in the Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle club room. (see here)


Eric Jones, unknown, Peter Mabey, unknown, unknown (photo Don Ford)

Barbridge Road I visited many times. In 1959 I gave up my job in the Lloyds Bank in Winchcombe to training in Cheltenham to be a teacher. At around that time my folks moved from Cheltenham to Cornwall so, though I was immersed in student life, Eric and Margaret were always there to offer friendship, support. I remember the "Green Lady" print on their sitting room wall. Very popular at the time.

Audios (1961):

This Is Cheltenham (.mp3 audio) 12.03 mins File size 4.14MB.
This Is Your Life: Eric Jones (.mp3 audio) 25.15 mins File size 23.12MB.

The best way to enjoy these is to download the file (click on link, then right click on the three dots) and listen to it on the audio device of your choice.

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