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Whitcon was the first post-War British convention, held at the White Horse pub's upper room in London, UK on Saturday May 15, 1948 (Whitsun weekend, hence the name, although it was retroactively declared Eastercon 1, see below). Despite little advance preparation, at least 53[1] fans attended. The GoH was A. Bertram Chandler. It was "organised by a single person: John Newman, late of the by this point defunct Cosmos Club", though in the actual event he was helped by Walter Gillings and others.

Whitcon was nominally to be held just on the evening of Saturday 15th, but fans, mostly from the London area plus a few from elsewhere in Britain, arrived earlier. The early arrivals were taken to London bookshops by locals in the afternoon and then went for tea at Lyons Corner House around 5 o'clock (when else?!) before moving to the White Horse for the main event, which started at 6:30 and had to vacate the pub by 10:30. The Whitcon Booklet gives "May 15th 16th" at the cover, but Sunday included only an informal stroll, possibly to be followed by a visit at Newman's: "John turned up at Kew Gardens with Syd Bounds and Sandy Sandfield - had he known his entourage could have been increased 100%, for Vincent Clarke, Daphne, and Speedy [unidentified] turned up, but could not find the others".

Gillings, who chaired the session, talked about the difficulties publishing prozines in the UK, and said that his Fantasy (1946–7) had folded because of the paper shortage. Ted Carnell reported the collapse of Pendulum Publications which stopped publication of the fourth issue of New Worlds (also 1946–7, revived in 1949). Arthur C. Clarke resurfaced and talked on sf and astronautics. He pointed out that the British Interplanetary Society once been a basically fan organization, but now perhaps only only twenty percent were fans. Ted Tubb was the auctioneer, selling easily everything (sent a. o. by fans who could not attend, "as did several generous fans in the States" – the unavailability of US publications due to currency restrictions was a bad problem then) except Ziff Davis prozines, producing about $70 (sic?!). Nearly $50 of the proceeds (after deducting expenses) were voted for the Big Pond Fund. Lt. Ken Slater couldn't attend because of duties in Germany, but he sent two pounds "to buy all the Whitcon attendees a drink, so, before attacking the running buffet, the meeting hurriedly broke up to drink Ken's health". Dave Newman also spoke. The only unmarried woman at the con was Daphne Bradley.

Ted Tubb later credited the success of the event to John Newman and called it a 'remarkable achievement' that so large a gathering was assembled. He did though concede that 50 was 'hardly representative of of the vast majority of lovers of science fiction' and called for a national organisation.

It's ironic that Eastercon didn't start on Easter. Compiling the canonical, ordinal list of past Eastercons in 1971 (when knowledge of even so recent fanhistory was still not at its strongest), Peter Weston began the series with Whitcon (naturally enough, as it launched a new tradition in a new era), although it could also have begun with the very first 1937 Leeds Convention, the original small 1944 Eastercon , the following 1949 Loncon which actually was at Easter, or the 1955 Cytricon which was the first natcon after the permanent move away from Whitsun.

Only after the con, "a Whitcon Booklet containing articles, comments, and information about the Whitcon and Anglofandom" was published. It was followed by Whitconzine (PDF), an 18-page, mimeographed collection of conreports and other reprinted material, published by Ken Slater’s Operation Fantast for the BFL ("what this meant in practice is not clear").

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
The gathering (brainstormed by John Newman) that marked the postwar revival of congoing in England. It took place 15-16 May 1948, over Whitsuntide weekend, at the White Horse tavern in London. Nearly 60 fans attended, including Gillings, Carnell, ACC, Bill Temple, and Bertram Chandler. New Worlds was declared folded (ending the last surviving English prozine), and a cooperative company was planned to take it over.
  • Whitsun 1948 at Rob Hansen's website / Then online supplements; contains photos and HTML versions of the Whitconzine, The Whitcon Booklet "and newly rediscovered John Newman's Whitcon Report (Fantasy Advertiser Vol. III No. 2 (July 1948) ) and Fantasy Times' Whitcon Report" (by Jack E. Quinn, "As extracted [i. e. summarised] from the Whitcon Booklet"; #69, September 1948, PDF)

first Eastercon Loncon
Website 1948
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  1. Rob Hansen identified 53 named attendees from contemporary reportage / signatures, with a few more uncertainties.