10 things you might not know about Bettys
After nearly 100 years, Bettys has a great many tales to tell, including the one about the wrong train, the story of the forgotten Tea Rooms, and the time an overheard conversation changed the course of history. Make a cup of tea, slice a piece of cake, and get comfortable as we tell you 10 things you might not know about Bettys.
The accidental Yorkshireman
Our founder, Frederick Belmont, came to Yorkshire by mistake. Having travelled from the continent by boat, he intended to find work on the south coast but accidentally boarded a train to Bradford.
A change of address
Bettys Harrogate is probably our most famous Café Tea Rooms, but the first Bettys, which opened on 17 July 1919, was actually located on the road opposite, Cambridge Crescent.
The forgotten Bettys
Frederick Belmont, opened his second Bettys Café in 1924 on 42/44 Darley Street, Bradford – the site of Bonnet & Sons, his first employers after he arrived in England. In 1928 he opened a Bettys ballroom on Manningham Lane in Bradford called the Mayfair Rooms.
Voyage of discovery
In 1936, Frederick Belmont and his wife Claire joined the maiden voyage of the passenger liner the Queen Mary. The art deco decor inspired the design of Bettys in York and Frederick even hired some of the craftsmen who had worked on the ship’s interiors to fit out the Café.
During the second world war, catering for weddings was incredibly difficult. On more than one occasion brides had to make do with a fully iced cardboard box instead of a cake.
All mod cons
In the 1960s Bettys opened an espresso bar on Street Lane in Leeds. Though it was initially a success, the staff struggled to cope with the antics of the mods and rockers who frequented it, and it soon closed.
An opportunity overheard
In 1962, Bettys bought C.E. Taylor & Co. Ltd for £180,000. The purchase came about after the Café Manager at Bettys in Harrogate, Miss May Carter, overheard businessmen in the café discussing the sale. She went straight to Victor Wild, who had taken over Bettys in 1952 after his uncle’s death, to tell him the news. After an amicable negotiation he agreed to pay the full asking price of £180,000, which was a considerable sum in those days.
Fit for a Queen
In 1977 Bettys, along with other chosen suppliers, was asked to make a cake for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee to be displayed at Buckingham Palace.
Quick thinking saves the day
In 1942 Bettys York was hit by an incendiary bomb. Fortunately, the damage was only minor, thanks to the quick action of the off-duty van driver who was acting as a fire watcher that night.
Who was Betty?
Was it a name picked at random, someone famous, or even a nickname for Claire, Frederick Belmont's wife? The truth is, no-one knows, but famous names including Alan Ayckbourn, Jilly Cooper and Alan Titchmarsh had fun speculating in the book 'Who Was Betty?', and you can read more about the history of Bettys in Hearts, Tarts & Rascals.
Photos clockwise from top left: Bettys espresso bar in Leeds; the Bettys Café on Darley Street in Bradford; the Queen Mary; the first Bettys on Cambridge Crescent in Harrogate.
If all that history has given you an appetite, you can order a Bettys treat online for delivery to your door: www.bettys.co.uk