Bell's Milk Bar has a rich history dating back to 1892 when it started as 'F. Fenton Confectioner'. The shop's development over the years made it what it is today. The iconic milk bar has maintained its 1950s architecture and unique interior murals with dancing fruit and aliens. Les Bell Jr. and his wife Mavis inherited the shop in 1953 and added modern ingredients to the old-fashioned recipes. Today, customers can enjoy the drinks that are made from Les Bell's famous secret recipes.
F. Fenton Confectioner opened on Patton Street, Broken Hill - the same site now occupied by Bells Milk Bar. Frederick Fenton was also a cordial maker and hired an apprentice John Joseph Longman to help him make his cordials
Longman was often left in charge of the store and, as a result, needed someone to help him make the cordials. Minnie Pearl Davis joins the business as an apprentice cordial maker and the pair begin a relationship. By 1908 Longman had acquired the store.
Longman is killed on the French battlefields of World War I leaving Minnie Pearl to run the store alone. By this time the couple had three children: Eric, Robert and Eunice. The store became known as Pearly Longman's.
Minnie Pearl marries Les Bell, a toolmaker on Broken Hill's South Mine on 7 March and the pair have a son Les Bell Junior. The shop was then known as Pearly Bell’s. Minnie Pearl was the true pioneer of Bells, running the shop solo as Les continued working on the mine. Legend has it that she would stand out in the street until it was devoid of a single soul before closing; thus ensuring that no one was ever denied the opportunity to purchase one last special Bells drink.
Council records indicate a major re-development of the shop in 1938. This would have most likely been when it first became ‘Bells Milk Bar’.
Les Bell Junior and his wife Mavis conduct dramatic renovations to the shop - which they inherited from Les Junior's mother Minnie Pearl just three years earlier. Today, the intact 1950s architecture meets the Jetson’s-style ‘Dancing Fruit & Aliens‘ interior murals. This version of Bells is still architecturally stylish, and was ahead of it’s time in the mid 1950’s.
Les Bell Junior was a perfectionist. He took his mother’s old recipes of the late 1800s and added1950s ingredients to modernise them. The result can still be tasted today – the drinks served here are made from Les Bell’s famous secret recipes which he adapted from his mother’s old fashioned recipes. They taste ‘out of this world’ and are a fine example of the benefit of retaining the old traditions like small batch handmade syrups.