The Bettys Story
The story of our family business begins with a young orphan from Switzerland who travelled to England to make his name.
Where Switzerland Meets Yorkshire
After losing his parents at an early age, Frederick Belmont spent his teens in apprenticeships for all manner of bakers and confectioners across Europe. By the time he arrived in England his head was filled with knowledge of their craft – and dreams of his future.
In London, Frederick discovered he had lost the address he was travelling to. All he could remember was that the town sounded like ‘Bratwurst’. Through sheer luck he found himself on a train to Bradford.
Fortunately the beautiful countryside and sweet clear air reminded him of his native Switzerland – so much so, that he decided to stay. In 1919 he opened his first Bettys Café Tea Rooms in the fashionable spa town of Harrogate. The combination of mouth-watering Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire warmth and hospitality in such an elegant setting proved irresistible. Bettys was an instant success and was soon able to boast of ‘Royal and Distinguished Patronage’ on its letterhead.
In the 1920s Frederick opened a Craft Bakery in Harrogate, complete with its own orchard. Thanks to the new Bakery, Frederick was able to open Bettys branches in other Yorkshire towns including a flagship café in York, inspired by the magnificent Queen Mary Cruise liner. His York tea room became particularly popular during the war years when the basement ‘Bettys Bar’ became the favourite destination of the hundreds of American and Canadian ‘Bomber Boys’ stationed around York. ‘Bettys Mirror’, on which many of them engraved their signatures with a diamond pen, remains on display at the branch today.
In the 1960s Bettys joined forces with another Yorkshire business, family tea and coffee merchants, Taylors of Harrogate.
A Family Affair
The years passed, and the business was handed down the family, who still run Bettys today. In the early sixties we bought Taylors, a family-run tea and coffee merchant, also based in Harrogate. It proved to be a winning combination.
With six Bettys Café Tea Rooms across Yorkshire, our own Cookery School and a home delivery service, the business has certainly grown. But we remain true to Frederick’s founding principles.
We’re devoted to doing things beautifully, from the cakes, breads and fancies made fresh each day at our Craft Bakery, to the way we look after our customers. And this is matched by the respectful manner in which we deal with the people who grow our speciality teas and gourmet coffees.
Who was Betty?
After 80 years the identity of Betty still remains a family mystery – although over the years many explanations have been offered.
Frederick could have named his Tea Rooms after the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, who was born at the turn of the century, or perhaps a former manageress of the Harrogate Spa, Betty Lupton, ’Queen of the Harrogate Wells’.
There’s a sentimental tale of young Betty, a doctor’s daughter, who died of tuberculosis and whose father’s practice on Cambridge Crescent later became the first Bettys Café Tea Rooms.
Our favourite story, however, is the one which tells of a small girl interrupting the very first Board Meeting when the issue of what to call the Tea Rooms was being discussed. The girl’s name, of course, was Betty.