In 1926 R.H.Tawney made the triumphant claim that minimum wage regulation under the trade board system ‘represents, with the sole exception of the extension of public education, the most successful piece of social legislation of the past quarter of a century’.1 Others who had led the campaign against ‘sweated’ labour before the first world war concurred. James Mallon and Edward Lascelles argued that the boards had been second only to the registration of dockers in transforming the economic structure of the poverty-stricken and demoralised East End of London.2 The problem of the ‘sweated trades’, predominantly the London clothing industry, had led to the largest experiment in minimum wage policy in British industrial history. Legally enforceable minimum wages in the sweated trades, they argued, had forced employers to mechanise and had driven production out of the small insanitary workshops and homeworkers’ rooms, opening the way for factory production. At the same time, the representative structure of the boards had forced both sides of industry to organise for the first time. These two achievements, industrial restructuring and organisation, had been the principal aims of the National Anti-Sweating League and the public campaign for minimum wage legislation before the first world war. By the mid-1920s the campaigners were claiming victory on both counts.