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

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

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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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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 ...

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Haan, Sidney Isaac De (1919–2002), businessman, was born at 21 Mossford Street, Mile End, in the East End of London, on 6 February 1919, one of eleven children of Benjamin De Haan, who worked in the well-established local boot and shoe industry, and his wife, ...

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Hampton, Elizabeth [Bess] (d. 1661), conventicle keeper and laundress, was perhaps of a family from Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire. She never married. She lived in Holywell Street, Oxford, round the corner from Wadham College, and on a direct route to Magdalen College, in a tenement leased from ...

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Hoseason, James William Nicholson [Jimmy] (1927–2009), holiday entrepreneur, was born at Keen's Farm, South Cove, near Southwold, Suffolk, on 6 November 1927, the son of William Ballantyne (Wally) Hoseason (1887–1950), a Shetlander, and his wife, Jessie Mary, née Nicholson (1893–1970), a Scottish cousin. His sister, ...

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Sir Maxwell Joseph (1910–1982) by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Joseph, Sir Maxwell [formerly Max] (1910–1982), hotelier and property dealer, was born Max Joseph on 31 May 1910, at 21 Whitechapel Road, London, the second of the three sons of Jack Joseph, a journeyman tailor and property dealer, and his wife, Sarah Orler...

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Sir Polydor de Keyser (1832–1898) by John Caller Stedelijke Musea Dendermonde

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Keyser, Sir Polydor de (1832–1898), hotelier and politician, was born on 12 December 1832 in rue de l'Église, Dendermonde, Belgium, the younger son of Joost Constant Fidel Armand de Keyser (b. 1801) and his wife, Catharina Rosalie, née Troch. Constant de Keyser...

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Leonard, Thomas Arthur (1864–1948), founder of associations for holidays and outdoor recreation, was born at 50 Tabernacle Walk, Finsbury, London, on 12 March 1864, the son of Thomas Leonard (1822–1869), clock- and watchmaker, and his wife, Agnes, née Campbell (1833–1910). Leonard's father died when he was only five years old and he was brought up by his mother, who was the daughter of ...

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Robin McDouall

revised by Anita McConnell

Lewis [née Ovenden], Rosa (1867–1952), hotel proprietor, was born on 26 September 1867 at Leyton, Essex, the fifth of the nine children of William Edwin Ovenden (d. 1910), watchmaker and later undertaker, and his wife, Eliza, daughter of John Cannon, jeweller, and great-niece of ...

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Lynn, William (1792–1870), hotelier and sports promoter, was born in 1792 at East Grinstead, but nothing else is known about his early life. He first ventured into the catering trade in London before moving to Liverpool, where in the 1820s he leased the ...