When Thomas Corless of Cockerham in 1714, took for his bride Sarah Bell of the 'Ridge Farm', he was to establish a dynasty in Pilling which would endure until 1960. His grandson Thomas in 1770 married Ann Miller. They farmed 'Maudlands Farm', together with a family of four children. William Bell, Jennet, Elizabeth and Maudland, Thomas himself dying in 1860.
His son William Bell Corless born in 1780 married Alice Hodgson of Cockerham. He prospered and in 1840 was able to build himself a fine house (SPRINGFIELD HOUSE) in the Georgian style at a cost of £4,000.
The stone coming from Ellel near Lancaster. Will Redman of 'Springfield Cottage' would recall that each stone cost 4/6 (22 1/2p), to dress.
After his death in 1860 he was succeeded by his son Thomas, who married Mary Dobson of 'Preesall House' in 1857. He was interested in all things parochial and the well being of the village. In 1875 to protect his lands from the ravages of the sea he began to replace the old earth embankment which dates from the days of 'Cockersand Abbey', by one faced with stone. The stone being carried across the bay in flat bottomed boats from the Silverdale area, piloted across the treacherous sands by William Shepherd of 'Pasture House'. The boats were beached on the tide to unload the stone, to be refloated on the next tide.
This work was finally completed in 1887 by his son Thomas at a cost of £500.
He was manager of the village school, a Parish Councillor and instrumental in the building of a grand new church. Contributing £500 himself to the building fund. As treasurer of the building committee at 3.00 p.m., on Friday the 22nd May 1885, he was able to lay the foundation stone of the new church for which he had worked so hard. He would be able to see the progress of the work across the fields from 'Springfield' (the same view we get from the Orangery windows today).
Although he is reputed to have visited the site each day to check every detail of the building work, he died only two years later in 1887. His son, another Thomas born in 1860 inherited Springfield although he was not the eldest son, but the fourth child of a family of five, William Bell, Alice Maud, Mary May, Thomas Alan and John Dobson. The son and heir William Bell having died.
In 1900 he married Annie Orr of 'The Priory, Hornby' they were blessed with four children. Thomas Alan Bell, Annie Madeline, Hilda and Cicely Elizabeth. Both he and his wife took an active part in village life. Together they served on the P.c.c. Annie being the secretary for no less
than 25 years. He was a church Warden 1896-1899, a member of the P.c.c. and chairman of the water course committee. Throughout his life he took a keen interest in the maintenance and improvement of his estate.
In addition to her work for the P.C.C. Annie Corless was a founder member of the Pilling W.!. and the Women's Unionist. She loved working and visiting her many friends, and lived to the grand old age of 90 years. Thomas dying in 1923 had been succeeded by his son Thomas Alan Bell 1904-1976. Following his father's example he continued to improve his Springfield estate and take an active part in village affairs.
Being a member of the P.C.C., the p'P.c., representing Pilling on the Garstang Rural District Council, a member of the local Conservative Committee and the President of the Pilling Young Farmers' Club. He was unmarried and left Pilling in 1960 to spend his retirement in Cumbria.
His sister Cicely recalls in her memoirs a Pilling of the early 1920's. Seeing on her visits to the village in springtime, gulls nesting on the shore, white violets blooming on the bank at the Breck and Miss Lambert's neat little cottage on Ladies Hill; the shining brass scales in the village shops; Simpsons in the village where she bought Pilling Toffee, Mrs. Prestons in Small wood Hey, Mrs. Thorntons in Wheel Lane and th Old Post Office from where phone calls could be made; Fiddle Cottagenear Village Farm, the home of Ben Alty a widow who through his industry reared, unaided from an early age a large family, found time to make fiddles and was an artist of some merit.
On her return from the village she would see 'Springfield' framed in damson blossom or looking mellow and fruitful in the Autumn sun.
The roof of Springfield was designed to collect water which ran into a large lead lined cistern at the top of the house. Another water supply came from a brick tank in the west orchard fed from the spring which gave the house its name. The water from which Miss Corless remembered was crystal clear. It was destroyed after the family left in 1960. In the farm yard was a water pump from which the water barrow used to water the kitchen garden was filled, with a square cork floating on top to prevent the water splashing over.
There was a horse walk in the farm building where the patiently plodding horses powered the machinery to work the threshing machine in the barn, andwhere Will Redman would spin ropes out of straw, to tie the threshed straw into bundles called 'bottles'.
She tells how drovers brought the cattle from Lancaster and how her mother would pay bills in gold sovereigns. How the daily paper was delivered by Postman Dobson who cycled from Garstang in all weathers, and on Christmas day the village band came to play at the house.
In the Pilling of those days, each field with high hedges and more trees than today was known by its own name. Most of the fields had small ponds, the haunt of water hens and ducks and a drinking place for cattle. Across the fields the Pilling train known as the 'Pilling Pig' could be seen chuffing its leisurely way to Knott End. Obligingly waiting for late corners at the Carr Lane crossing.
His sister Cicely recalls in her memoirs a
Miss Corless remembers with pleasure those happy days of long ago, picnics on the shore at Fluke Hall, collecting the famous Pilling cockles, seeing the villagers gathering driftwood for their fires. The flukes brought from the fishermen so fresh they would jump about on the pantry shelves. Miss Cicely Corless died in 1988.
But now the Pilling of Miss Corless's youth, with nothing but country sounds to disturb the quiet, is gone forever, but Springfield House, still remains to remind us of the Corless's and those happy far off days.