Bettys at 100: Humble beginnings of a Harrogate institution

Bettys is celebrating its 100th birthday this week.
Bettys is celebrating its 100th birthday this week.

Arriving in England as an orphan and with very little understanding of the English language, Frederick Belmont could never have imagined the legacy he would leave behind.

Bettys celebrates incredible 100th milestone in Harrogate

Frederick Belmont opened his first Bettys cafe in Harrogate in 1919.

Frederick Belmont opened his first Bettys cafe in Harrogate in 1919.

As Bettys celebrates its 100th birthday this week, we take a look back over its long and illustrious history... a Yorkshire institution, 100 years in the making.

1919 - Bettys Harrogate Opens: Bettys is founded and the first Bettys Café opens at 9 Cambridge Crescent, Harrogate, complete with a bakery on the top floor. The takings for the first day were £30 and for the first week were £220.

1920 - Bettys Harrogate expands: Within three months Frederick starts looking for opportunities to expand into adjoining buildings.

1922 - New Bakery Built: Frederick opens a new purpose-built Bakery on Prospect Road, Harrogate (now the site for Taylors tea and coffee factory and Bettys Bakery and Cookery School).

Bettys at 100: The orphan’s dream which lives on today in Harrogate and across the world

1924 - Bettys Bradford Opens: Opens his second Bettys Café in Bradford – on the site of Swiss-owned confectioners Bonnet & Sons, his first employers in England.

1930 - Bettys Leeds Opens: Frederick opens the third Bettys Café on the corner of 8-9 Commercial Street and 2-4 Lands Lane in Leeds.

1937 - Opening of Bettys York: The interior is inspired by the decor of the Queen Mary passenger liner, which Frederick Belmont travelled on in 1936. The café is in St Helens Square.

1952 - Frederick Belmont dies: The founder of Bettys dies of a heart attack in his office at Bettys Harrogate on Cambridge Crescent, aged 67. Claire Belmont, his wife, becomes Chairman of Bettys and Victor Wild becomes Managing Director.

Bettys at 100: Questions remain over why Belmont decided on the name 'Bettys'

1962 - Purchase of C. E. Taylor & Co. Ltd: The £180,000 sale comes about after the Café Manager at Bettys Harrogate, May Carter, overhears businessmen discussing the news that Taylors is for sale and informs Victor Wild who negotiates the purchase.

1965 - Betty’s apostrophe dropped: The apostrophe is removed and Betty’s becomes Bettys. The exact reason why is no longer remembered, but it’s generally believed that the name is thought to look better without one.

1971 - Bettys Northallerton opens: Opens at 188 High Street. The following year, after 86 years in Leeds, the Taylors factory moves to a new purpose-built tea and coffee facility adjacent to the Bettys Bakery in Starbeck.

1974 - Bettys Leeds and Bradford close: Victor Wild decides to move Bettys out of the hustle and bustle of the city and closes the Bettys Cafés in Leeds and Bradford. It is part of a move towards associating with town and country.

Bettys at 100: Humble beginnings of a Harrogate institution

1976 - Bettys Harrogate relocates: Bettys Harrogate relocates from its premises at 8-11 Cambridge Crescent across the road into the former Taylors Café Imperial at 1 Parliament Street.

1977 - Yorkshire Tea launches: Yorkshire Tea launches to take advantage of a gap in the market for a mid-market Taylors product. The 72 tea bags are hand-packed into a carton based on a cake box, designed by Chairman Victor Wild. T he tea is specifically designed for brewing with Yorkshire water.

1983 - The Fat Rascal is invented: Jonathan Wild, Victor’s eldest son, develops the Fat Rascal, which becomes a signature speciality for Bettys. Working alongside a small product development team, the aim was to create a Yorkshire speciality that was uniquely Bettys.

2000 - New Craft Bakery: Purpose-built building opens a stone’s throw from the original Bakery. The following year Bettys Cookery School opened.

2004- Bettys Harlow Carr & Northallerton opens: Northallerton opens in new premises in September. In November, Bettys joins forces with the Royal Horticultural Society at Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate and the first new Bettys Café Tea Rooms for 33 years opens in time for Christmas.

2019 - Bettys & Taylors celebrate 100 years: It’s a century since Frederick Belmont first opened Bettys’ doors to customers.