Sir Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet

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Portrait of Sir Hugh Bell, with Gertrude Bell aged 8, by Edward Poynter, in 1876, the year of his remarriage

Sir (Thomas) Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet CB JP FSA (10 February 1844 – 29 June 1931) was mayor of Middlesbrough three times - in 1874, 1883 and 1911 - High Sheriff of Durham 1895, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham, Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire.[1]


Bell was educated at Edinburgh, the Sorbonne university in Paris, and in Germany. When he was 18 he was obliged by his father to work at the family's Bell Brothers Ironworks at Walker, Newcastle. He was then made the director of the family's other large factory, the steelworks at Middlesbrough.

Bell was, like his father, a director of the North Eastern Railway, and had a private platform on the line between Middlesbrough and Redcar at the bottom of his garden at his house Red Barns. He was treated as royalty by the railway. His daughter, Lady Richmond, recalled saying goodbye to her father at King's Cross. He stayed with her on the platform to chat until the train left. When the train did not leave on time they went on talking, until at last a guard came up to them and said "If you would like to finish your conversation, Sir Hugh, we will then be ready to depart."[2] He was no ordinary capitalist and mill owner, but made sure his workers were well paid and cared for.[3]

Architectural commissions[edit]

His friendship with the architect Philip Webb led to three commissions in the Middlesbrough area - of Rounton Grange (demolished in 1953),[4] Red Barns House[5] and the Dorman Long office building (originally Bell Brothers) in Middlesbrough (his only commercial development).[6]


He was the son of the wealthy pioneering ironmaster Lowthian Bell and his wife Margaret Pattinson. He married Maria Shield on 23 April 1867 and they had two children:

Upon the death of his first wife on 19 April 1871, he married, secondly, Florence Eveleen Eleanor Olliffe (later Dame Florence Bell, DBE), a daughter of Sir Joseph Olliffe.

With Florence he had three children:

Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Ripon
Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
Geoffrey William Algernon Howard
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lowthian Bell
(of Rounton Range and Washington Hall)
Succeeded by
Maurice Bell



  • Howell, Georgina, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations. Paperback edition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

External links[edit]