Early Closing Association

The Early Closing Association was formed in the United Kingdom in 1842[1] or 1843[2] to control the hours of labour in retail shops, and to abolish Sunday trading. It was promoted by Samuel Carter Hall, George Dawson[3] and John Passmore Edwards,[4] among others. Half-day early Closing was not finally won until 1912. It was opposed by Asquith's Liberal Government until a bill could be passed due to Trade Union pressure. The first socialist woman to enter parliament Margaret Bondfield, later a Labour MP, was an early advocate of early closing when a mass meeting was held in Trafalgar Square. But it would be another decade of 72 hour working weeks before the week could be cut to 60 hours. Another radical supporter was disgraced Liberal MP Sir Charles Dilke, whose involvement with Mrs Crawford damaged his reputation and chances of becoming Prime Minister. Had he become Gladstone's natural successor early closing might have happened in 1890. Dilke's bill to close shops at 8 pm which failed to pass was bitterly opposed by both Lords and Commons during 1903. Home Secretary Winston Churchill was very anti-trade union regularly opposing any legislation to assist the improvements they so desired.[5] Other famous supporters included H. G. Wells, the author who had spent a miserable two years behind the counter. The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle warmly approved of the Early Closing Association. Church leaders and friendly societies also backed a change in the law. Without statutory control exploitative proprietors could keep shops open until midnight at the weekend.

Victoria (Australia)Edit

A similar association was founded in Melbourne in the 1850s. Retail workers sought to reduce the number of work hours and to introduce early closing on Saturdays. [6]


  1. ^ Probert Encyclopaedia
  2. ^ Mandler, Peter. "Hall, Samuel Carter". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11987. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Sellers, Ian. "Dawson, George". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7347. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Morris, A. J. A. "Edwards, John Passmore". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32981. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ USDAW leaflet Retrieved 30 November 2016
  6. ^ http://ergo.slv.vic.gov.au/explore-history/fight-rights/workers-rights/fight-retail-hours