WHITCON (1948)The Whitcon of 1948, held in a room above the White Horse pub - home of the London Circle - was the first post-war British SF convention and is the one that our national conventions are numbered from. It lasted a single day and was organised by a single person: John Newman, late of the by this point defunct Cosmos Club.
At the time of the Whitcon, Britain only had Ken Slater's Operation Fantast, the British Fantasy Library, and the Cosmos Club Library to serve as any sort of rallying point for fans nationally. The BFL and CCL were primarily postal book and magazine lending libraries and were departments that had survived the demise of the British Fantasy Society and Cosmos Club respectively. Import and currency restrictions made acquiring American books and magazines a difficult prospect and gave such libraries an importance often not appreciated by fans of later eras.
The Whitconzine and the Whitcon Booklet were published after the con and between them contain pretty much everything we know about the convention. Interestingly, the Whitconzine was published "by Operation Fantast for the BFL". However, what this meant in practice is not clear.
In an earlier time I might have selected the best bits from each of these and published them as a special reprint fanzine titled AT LAST! THE 1948 CON, but in these days of the world wide web I'm able to present both for your entertainment and enlightenment.
This list has been gleaned from the two publications. There are also references to 'Speedy' and 'Dave'. Whether these are two more attendees or merely nicknames for a couple of those named above is unknown. There are 50 signatures of congoers on the inside front page of the Whitcon Booklet - several of them unreadable, alas. One of those names - George Whitley - was a penname of Bertram Chandler, so we can only be sure that 49 people attended.
Photos are from the Vince Clarke archive and though undated all were taken outside the White Horse and are from that period. Some were almost certainly taken at the Whitcon.