Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thomas Bell and Son

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of Newcastle upon Tyne.

  • Thomas Bell, the son of William Bell, founded a grocery and tea company in Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Thomas had experimented with the effect of rising agents on flour in baking and from that produced the world's first self-raising flour.
  • He founded the Bells Royal works which sold the Bell's Royal Flour.
  • c. 1875 Thomas Bell started in his own right in small premises in the yard of the Black Boy Hotel adjoining the Groat Market in the centre of Newcastle. As well as manufacturing baking powder and self-raising flour he produced a health salt which later was discontinued. He also packed and marketed dried fruit, cereals, tea and coffee using such names as T.B. Royalty (later Royty), Black Diamond, and Belsun.
  • Thomas Bell and Son Ltd were incorporated on 10 November. They then moved into larger premises in Low Friar street.
  • 1910 Following the death of Edward VII, it was no longer permissible to use the Royal name. The name Bell's Royal was adapted to BE-RO and registered under the Trade Marks Act of 1905. Thus Be-Ro Flour.
  • 1911 The company purchased larger premises in Bath Lane.
  • 1923 Sold the first of over 40 million copies of the BE-RO recipe book. The recipe book is the best selling recipe book in the world with over 120,000 books sold per year.
  • 1925 Thomas Bell died; his descendents continued to expand the company, to cover Carlisle and the whole of Co. Durham as well as Teesside. Depots were later built at Leeds, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Birmingham.
  • 1931 The company chose Nottingham as a base to expand into the Midlands. Several dozen more depots were either built, bought or rented throughout England and Scotland.
  • 1957 Ranks Ltd acquired the business[1].


See Also

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  • [1] Be-Ro website

Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 19 December 1957