CYTRICON II, the 1956 UK national science fiction convention was held at The George Hotel in the town of Kettering over the Easter weekend, Friday 30th March - Monday 2nd April. Overflow hotel was The Royal, with The Swan Hotel hosting a further seven fans. Parties were held in both The George and The Royal. The con was organised by the London Circle.

Total attendance at the convention was apparently 81. The list of confirmed attendees below was gleaned from conreports and photos. It includes those who only dropped in for a day.

John Ashcroft
Mal Ashworth
Ron Bennett
Eric Bentcliffe
John Brunner
Daphne Buckmaster
Ron Buckmaster
Pam Bulmer
Ken Bulmer
Brian Burgess
Alan Burns
Ted Carnell
Joy Clarke
Vince Clarke
Dave Cohen
Pat Doolan
Philip Duerr
Pete Emery
Paul Enever
Frances Evans
Dave Gardner
Irene Gore
John Greengrass
Peter Hamilton
Paul Hammett
Joan Hammett
Chuck Harris
Bill Harrison
Bill Harry
Jan Jansen
Terry Jeeves
Eric Jones
Margaret Jones
Tony Klein
Bruce Kidd
Dave Kyle
Ethel Lindsay
Shirley Marriott
Ken McIntyre
Don MacKay
Rene MacKay
Lil MacKay
Hal Kennedy
Archie Mercer
Shirley Marriott
Jim Marshall
Ellis Mills
Frank Milnes
Dan Morgan
Eric Needham
Dave Newman
Stan Nuttall
Sheila O'Donnell
John Owen
Ken Potter
Harry Powers
Dorothy Ratigan
Jim Ratigan
Peter Reaney
Pete Rigby
John Roles
Sandy Sanderson
Laurence Sandfield
Larry Shaw
Lee Hoffman Shaw
Ina Shorrock
Norman Shorrock
Ken Slater
Anne Steul
Pete Taylor
Arthur Thomson
Ted Tubb
Brian Varley
Mike Wallace
Norman Wansborough
Peter West
Bobbie Wild
Walt Willis
Jack Wilson
Geoff Wingrove
Kathie Youden

This composite report derives from those listed below. My thanks to Greg Pickersgill for his invaluable help in sourcing many of these reports and for supplying scans.

Photos from the albums of (ejc) Ted Carnell, (avc) Vince Clarke, (jr) John Roles, and (ns) Norman Shorrock, who did not necessarily take them. Most scans courtesy of Peter Weston, who wasn't always as diligent about attribution as one might hope. Unattributed photos were probably also from these albums, however.

.....Rob Hansen

Programme Book

Sadly, there are no really clear shots of the convention badge - and none appear to have survived - but what we can say is that they were printed and not merely the cardboard blanks used at the 1957 London Worldcon.

Married on, March 8, 1956, at the New York City Hall, Larry Shaw, editor of Infinity Science Fiction, and the well known fan, Lee Hoffman.

- FANTASY TIMES #242 (ed. James V. Taurasi)

US TAFF winner Lee Hoffman attended the convention without drawing on the fund, she and new husband Larry Shaw financing the trip out of their own pockets as their honeymoon. After the convention they were shown around by various fans.

Larry Shaw, Lee Hoffman, Walt Willis, Pam & Ken Bulmer (avc)


Friday 30th March


"But all I'm worried about," I said to Arthur [Thomson], "is how to get to the George from the station."

"You don't have to worry about that," he said. "You just get onto the main road and there you are. Anyway, there's bound to be some fans on your train.'

Luckily some kind person had foreseen my plight and provided a 'map' on the back of one of the bulletins So I set off to catch the 3.30pm from St. Pancras loaded with a heavy bag full of Emmys and some jazz records under my arm.

"Give yourself plenty of time to got to the station," someone at home had said. "It'll take you all of an hour and a half to get there. So I gave myself an hour and a half and arrived at St.P just in time to miss the 2.45 train. There were crowds of people on the platform a good half hour before the train was due so I thought that if there were any fans I was going to be hard put to find them. I didn't find any - none that I know anyway so decided to wait till I got to Kettering to see who got off the train.

Three people got off. One old gent with a newspaper and an old gnarled stick (say, I've just thought - George? *), and one elderly woman with a bawling kid of about three. I studied the map. True, the person who had drawn it up said it wasn't to scale, and all the minor roads had been missed out, but after plodding for twenty minutes I began to wonder if that person had ever been within 100 miles of Kettering.

[* a reference to George Charters, whom his fellow Belfast fans talked about as if he was older than Methusulah - Rob]

The Liverpool Group's hired bus in front of The George Hotel (ns)


At a quarter to four on Good Friday I staggered from the train at Kettering station, adjusted my two slung haversacks, took a tighter grip on my gramophone(in the right hand) and a parcel consisting mainly of records for same (in the left), and set my face firmly towards the George Hotel. About fifty yards ahead of me, Walt Willis stalked his proud and lordly way. About as far again behind me, I could discern the chatter of several more humans - if they too were fen, and if so who, I still don't know. Besides I can't say that it's all that important.

Arriving at the George in good order, I was immediately caught up in a furious burst of misapprehensions by Joyce, the receptionist, who was practically insisting that I must have a car and wanted to know the number of it. I explained patiently that the nearest thing was the train I'd so carelessly abandoned down at the station and I hadn't a clue as to its number. So she decided to humour me and let me in without it. I signed the book under Peter Reaney, moved within -- and the Con was on.

unknown, Brian Varley, Sandy Sanderson, Frances Evans, Dave Newman

There was nothing in particular doing that Friday, of course. I helped the Joneses stick up their Cheltenham egoboo-notices in the Con hall, sampled Ken Slater's wares in the same locality, and generally stooged around meeting people and generally gassing. The GESTALTers, for example -- I remembered them from last year as just one amorphous huddle, with nothing to distinguish them one from the other. This time the names meant more to me and I was able to sort them out properly. Alan Burns, who's bigger than both of us; Jim Marshall, the slim cartoonist -- or am I thinking of Hal Kennedy -- genial Pete Emery and W.H. Carr [ aka Harry Powers] the hypnotist, with his thick-lensed glasses. Then there was the Southport Interplanetary duo -- Pete Rigby and John Ashcroft. These two I had met last year, but had been unable to sort out from several other new faces at the time -- even though I'd travelled back in the carriage with them part of the way. Even now, they seem rather more individual in the fanzines than in the flesh -- where they appeared as just a couple of neatly-dressed and agreeable youngsters who always seemed to be somewhere around but never pushing into the forefront of anything.


I came across the George quite by chance after having been directed twice and then began looking out for the Royal. "Almost next door" I had been told. I found it ten minutes later.

"No sir, we have no room in the name of Mr. Wingrove."
(I knew this would happen - always does to me!)
"But didn't Mrs. Clarke send you in, a booking?"
"Oh! Just a moment....yes here we are. We've put you over in the Sun just across the road."
"I'm afraid we couldn't accommodate you all here. There are seven in the Sun altogether."
I picked up my bags to move off.
"The Sun doesn't open till six o'clock!"
I put my bags down again.
"Would you like to rest in the Residents lounge till six?

I sank back deeply into a hard chair and lit a cigarette. After a while a rain-coated man came in.

"Been here before?"- he inquired.
"No. This is the first time I've been to Kettering."
"I'm afraid I don't know many people - I'm practically new to fandom."
"Uh-huh! Well, I'm Geoff Wingrove."
"My name's Greengrass...."

You could have knocked me down with a zapgun! He was GREENGRASS. He WAS Greengrass. HE was Greengrass. No, surely he couldn't be the NEBULA Greengrass? He was!

And a few minutes later Norm Wansborough walked in.

And a few minutes later we heard voices shouting "Hey, there's fans in here, c'mon!" And in walked Pete Reaney, Bill Harry, and Bruce Kidd wearing a ridiculous looking beanie. I dug out my Emmys and started selling them to all and Reaney. Yes! they bought 'em. And so did a femme who dived in and out again without introducing herself. I don't know who she was.

[Anyone have any idea what 'Emmys' might be in this context?]


In the Devil's Kitchen I met Bruce Kidd, the MAD Boy of Romford, who is also the Staff Artist of my OMPAzine [ARCHIvE]. He proved his identity by making a light zing-sketch of a Melvin's-head on some odd bit of paper that was floating around - either one of his own quote cards or one of the Slater-Wallace "Frumiously Wunk ered Qwats" adverts. He must be a fan - he wore a beanie.

Bill Harry (ns) - 1957 photo

Another teenage type was Bill Harry, a wild-looking but quiet-voiced Liverpolitan (as he tells me) fan. Then there was a bit of a commotion over by the door. Investigating, I found a tall distinguished-looking fair-haired type surrounded by pretty well every BNF in the place and labelled as Jan Jansen. I "psssst-ed" at him from behind a convenient pillar until I managed to get his attention for a moment and display the Mercatorial identity. Then he disappeared under the ever-growing pile of BNFs and I left him to it.


Came six o'clock and I dragged my bags over to the Sun. Five to six actually, but I always like to be on time! I rang the bell. I rang that goldarn bell over two dozen times during the next twenty minutes and eventually asked a passerby what time the Sun opened.

"Seven o'clock, probably, seeing it's Good Friday."

[It seems that fans being caught out when the clocks going forward coincides with Easter is nothing new - Rob]


"May I leave my luggage here while I go find a cafe?" I said to the receptionist at the Royal - and I set off to find an eating house - and of all people I should meet up with, I discovered Reaney and Kidd discussing "What does it push against?" in Ivy's.

Well, the Sun did open at seven and I was informed that the Kidd was in the next Room to me! And he would insist on wearing that damn silly beanie in the street. After unpacking we went over to the George and found a crowd of fen in the bar.

The only one I recognised after glancing round was John Brunner who called me over and introduced me to Archie Mercer. For some strange reason they were talking Jazz, so I bought myself a cider and joined them. Five minutes later some undescribable clod put his hoof in my drink. I didn't feel too hard about when he bought me another one though.


Geoff Wingrove put in an appearance - an amiable giant of six-foot four, who'd also brought some records with him. So had John Brunner and we all three adjourned to my room to play some of them. Jazz session over, we joined the informal party in the upstairs lounge, where I just sat around and talked and drank and things till about four in the morning. By then the only other survivors were Dave Newman, Dave Cohen, Ron Bennett, and Norman Shorrock, and they were engrossed in a card school of three card brag. So I went to bed.

Dave Newman, Dave Cohen