In this edited extract from Old Times in The Potteries by William Scarrat published in 1906, the author looks back and reflects on the changes which took place in Tunstall during the second half of the 19th century.
It would be well for some qualified person to estimate our losses and gains since the 1850s. We have lost the sweet fields and the green foliage which sheltered happy songbirds. Gone, too, are the wealthy townsmen, in search of health and quiet breathing. That grand old man, Sir Smith Child, Bart, removed his last oak tree from Newfield Hall in 1846. The advice and opinions of these cultured absentees are lost to a great degree. If the urbanity and the hospitality of the past were not over-refined, they were generous and hearty. Parks, however estimable, are not an equivalent to the free haunts of the past; for one thing, you did not see a notice “Keep off the grass” next to the pathway. The freedom of all grades and classes is unlimited in other respects, and working conditions are much better. But at the same time, we miss the patriarchal behaviour of a previous generation of master potters. One is aware that even in that state there were certain evils. The employer and the employee are now too frequently rivals. Up to the end of the 18th century, they often worked side by side. A good master would have a good man, and did not begrudge him good wages – he would just as soon have an empty cottage as an empty bench.