Manchester Interplanetary Society

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The Manchester Interplanetary Society was formed on June 9th 1936 by 16 year old Eric Burgess. During its almost three year existence the Society consisted of approximately 20 members all aged between 14 and 20 years old. Although the group understood the need for liquid fuel rockets the technology was beyond their reach so they concentrated on home-built powder rockets. An accident on March 27th 1937 where several people were injured when a small powder rocket exploded would lead to a national news story and ultimately members of the society being charged under sections 4 and 39 of the British Explosives Act of 1875. The Society was briefly headquartered in a house in Hollingsworth near Glossop, beginning in April 1937, where member Trevor Cusack dug trenches around the area in anticipation of rocket launches. Later the group would partner with other like-minded groups such as the Leeds Rocket Society.

The Society would publish a journal called The Astronaut edited by Malcolm Wade and Harry Turner. In the June 1937 issue of the journal is a report by Burgess of a trip to Paris where he went to meet with French pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie who was apparently ill during Burgess' visit. The Society also published the Bulletin of the Manchester Interplanetary Society.

In December 1937 a disagreement over the pursuit of rocket experiments caused the members to split into two groups, with Burgess and Trevor Cusack going off to found the Manchester Astronautical Association.

After the break with Burgess et al, Harry Turner would continue to edit The Astronaut and would garner contributions from such luminaries as Willy Ley, Philip Ellaby Cleator and Otto Steinitz. The society would ultimately fold in the last week of February 1939. Harry Turner would go on to provide artwork for many of the fledgling science fiction fanzines published after World War II, including Novae Terrae edited by Ted Carnell and later Arthur C. Clarke. Meanwhile, Burgess and Kenneth W. Gatland would maintain the only active British space organisation during World War II, CBAS.

Burgess would later go on to become Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society before ultimately moving to the United States.

Known members of the Manchester Interplanetary Society included:

Eric Burgess (President), William Heeley (Secretary), Harry Turner (Joint Secretary), Malcolm Wade (Secretary), J. Broadbent (Librarian), Doreen Hope Burgess (General Secretary) James Cummins, Ms M. H. Holmes, Trevor Cusack (Treasurer), Ms E.M. Davis Ms Tucker, Lillian Dawber, Stan Davis, Harold Gottliffe (Leeds Rocket Society), Henry Turner, F.C. Cockle, Marion Eadie, J.E. Cowie, S.K. Mundie, J.A. Clarke, Eric Needham H.E. Higginbottom T.L. McDonald Douglas W.F. Mayer

Honorary Members included Otto Steinitz, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, Philip Ellaby Cleator and Gawain Edward Pendray of the American Interplanetary Society.