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Henry Bell (1767–1830) by James Tannock Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Bell, Henry (1767–1830), hotelier and developer of steam navigation, was born at Torphichen Mill, Linlithgowshire, on 7 April 1767, the fifth son of Patrick Bell and his wife, Margaret Easton. He was educated at the village school and then in Falkirk. Despite the reputation of Scottish schools, his education served him badly and for the rest of his life he was unable to spell and made many grammatical errors in his extensive correspondence. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed as a stonemason and then in 1783 as a millwright—two trades much in demand at a time when Scottish industry was growing rapidly. In 1786 he began work in the shipyard of ...

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Butlin, Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne [Billy] (1899–1980), fairground proprietor and founder of holiday camps, was born in Cape Town, Cape Colony, where his parents had emigrated, on 29 September 1899, the elder child of William Butlin and Bertha Hill (d. 1933)...

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Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne Butlin (1899–1980) by Elliott & Fry, 1961 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Claridge, William (1814/15–1882), hotelier, was born in Aylsham, Norfolk, the son of James Claridge, who may have been a servant of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, and who later worked at Gunter's restaurant in London. William Claridge's wife, Marianne Maloney (b. 1815), was Irish; they married on 15 June 1841 and it is thought that they were in private service, possibly as a butler and his wife, until they took over the running of a small private hotel in ...

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Cranston, Robert (1815–1892), founder of temperance hotels, was born on 9 August 1815, at East Calder, near Edinburgh, the son of James Cranston, mason and innkeeper, and his wife, Janet Garvie. His grandfather Robert had moved there from Jedburgh about 1778 to act as factor for the ...

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Forte, Charles, Baron Forte (1908–2007), caterer and hotelier, was born on 26 November 1908 in the hamlet of Mortale, outside the village of Casalaticco, in an area of Italy known as the Ciociaria, the eldest son of Rocco Giovanni Forte and his wife, ...

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Charles Forte, Baron Forte (1908–2007) by Baron, 1953 Getty Images

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Fothergill, John Rowland (1876–1957), innkeeper and author, was born on 27 February 1876 at Kennington, Ashford, Kent, the only son of George Fothergill and his wife, Isabel Eliza (née Crawshay). He had two sisters. His mother died when he was two days old, and ...

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Freeth, John [pseud. John Free] (1731–1808), innkeeper and political ballad writer, was born at the Bell tavern, Philip Street, Birmingham, the son of Charles Freeth, landlord of the Bell, and his wife, Mary. Nothing is known of Freeth's education or of his early years, although it seems that he was once an itinerant street ballad singer. Where and when ...