Open Wembley on Sundays

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Open Wembley on Sundays is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Reynolds's News on 1st june 1924.

Open Wembley on Sundays

Reynolds's News (1 june 1924, p. 2)

Absolute Lunacy to Keep It Closed.

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. *

Despite all protests, the Empire Exhibition at Wembley remains closed on Sundays. Parliament stands by helpless while a great injustice is done to the workers.

Before the Exhibition opened, Sir Guy Gaunt, in "Reynolds's," showed the absurdity of Sunday closing, and "Reynolds's" has several times urged the same things.

Below Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his fine plea for common sense, points out the need for doing something at once, before the weeks slip by and it is too late.

I cannot understand how there can be a difference of view as to the wisdom of opening the Empire Exhibition on Sundays. To keep it closed seems absolute lunacy.

It is perfectly wicked that a sane nation should use all its resources to order and collect a magnificent object-lesson of its own power, should assemble it close to its capital, and then deliberately shut off from a large section of its population the opportunity of seeing it. It has only got to be thus stated for any ordinary person to realise the absurdity of it.


As to the objections raised in connection with the due rest for the staff, it seems to me that if it is necessary to give one particular day for the sake of the personnel, it should be any day except Sunday, the day of all others which should be employed in innocent recreation. Far better that, it should be Monday, though I do not see why there should be any difficulty in arranging for a seven days' opening of the exhibition without anybody being called upon to work more than the customary six days.

I should be glad, however, to see the amusement section shut down on Sundays. When a person has got the chance of examining the produce of his own Empire, it is absurd that he should spend the time in sliding down a plank or swinging in a boat, or switchbacking or throwing balls for prizes — things which he can do equally well in any country fair. He will find plenty to amuse as well as instruct in the wonderful panorama of Colonial life exhibited in every one of the sections. For this is no dull Exhibition, no mere display of common. place objects in glass cases. It is full of human interest, in which there is material for humour as for pride.

We may listen to the finest bands in our parks on Sundays; in our museums and art collections we may enjoy on that day some of our treasures of art and science; we may drink a cup of tea in the parks and open spaces watched over by public authorities. All these things we may do separately. But we must not do them altogether. That would be violating the Sabbath! Could anything be more ridiculous?


I think that there extreme Sabbatarians, who inherit a tradition which is Jewish and not Christian, and which is absolutely against both the teaching and the example of Christ are merely a very small minority in the nation; but they are organised and energetic. It is high time that the majority should show energy also and make its voice heard in so good a cause.

But time is passing. Already the Exhibition has been open more than a month. Five Sundays already have been wasted. If anything is to be done it must be done at once. If nothing is done, then one must despair of the common-sense of this country.

(*) In an interview.