Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Book Icon

Sir Hugh's portrait to be displayed at national attraction

A portrait of a renowned former Mayor of Middlesbrough is now proudly on display in the nation’s Science Museum.

Middlesbrough Council was approached by the Science Museum, in London, in August 2018 to ask if the authority had a portrait of Sir Hugh Bell as they wanted to set up a visual history of people who had been involved in the museum.

As well as being Mayor of Middlesbrough on three occasions Sir Hugh was also the first chairman of the Science Museum.

Fortunately Middlesbrough Council has a portrait on the wall of the Council Chamber with Sir Hugh watching all of the decisions of today’s elected members.

Now, however, the portrait has been loaned to the Science Museum for the “founding fathers” exhibition in the new Patrons Centre. It will remain in place for three years before returning to Middlesbrough Town Hall in April 2022.

Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said: “We often talk about the importance of culture to Middlesbrough. Our history and heritage is a major part of that and so it makes us very proud to allow Sir Hugh Bell’s portrait to be displayed at the Science Museum on a national stage where millions upon millions of people will see it over the next three years.”

Sir Hugh Bell was the Mayor of Middlesbrough on three occasions, 1874, 1883 and 1911, the last time being the few months of office left after the death of Sir Samuel Alexander Sadler who died while in office.

During this last term as Mayor he arranged for Middlesbrough’s Coat of Arms, which had been in use unofficially since 1853, to be legally registered with the College of Heralds. The original framed parchment and sealed grant is on display in the Erimus Heritage Room in the Town Hall.

Sir Hugh was born at Walker-on-Tyne on February, 10, 1844, and attended Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, Scotland and later studied chemistry for three years at Paris and Gottingen.

He entered his father’s office in 1862, and moved to Port Clarence in 1863, by 1880 he was control of Bell Brothers Ironworks Co. Ltd.  He built a new basic open-hearth steel making shop in 1901 to use local iron ore.  In 1923 Bell Brothers were completely amalgamated with Dorman Long and Company.

His daughter, Gertrude Lowthian Bell, was the famous diplomat and Middle Eastern explorer.


Pictured: Portrait of Sir Hugh Bell on display at the Science Museum (L) and portrait of Sir Hugh Bell on display in the Town Hall chamber (R)