Death of William James Bell

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 20 July 1921

By the inter-war period Gallaher’s Tobacco was the largest independent tobacco company in the world. Its factory in York Street, Belfast, was largest of its type in Europe by 1920 and could produce up to 40,000 cigarettes an hour. In July 1921, several newspapers reported the death of William James Bell, the managing director of Gallaher Ltd. According to the 1911 census, Bell lived in a spacious property on Annadale Avenue with his wife, daughter, son, sister-in-law and a domestic servant.

Gallagher's York Street factory courtesy of NMNI

Death of Well-Known Irish Tobacco Manufacturer

The death is announced of the managing director of Messrs Gallaher, Ltd. Mr Wm. James Bell. Mr Bell was the elder and only surviving son of the late Mr William Bell, J.P., of Belgravia, Belfast. He commenced business life with his father, who was a successful grain merchant; and early in life went to the United States, where he became a member of the famous Corn Exchange in Chicago. Nearly forty years ago he returned to his native city, and joined with his brother-in-law Mr Thomas Gallaher, J.P., in the tobacco manufacturing business, with which the subsequent course of his career was actively identified. When something like a quarter of a century ago the private limited company of Messrs Gallaher was formed Mr Thomas Gallaher—also intimately identified with shipping as chairman of the prosperous Belfast Steamship Company—became chairman, while Mr Bell was entrusted with the responsible duties of managing director—a position he continued to fill to the end.

During the late European War Mr. Bell was a member of the Tobacco Council. In this capacity he represented the interests of the Irish manufacturers. Apart from the Imperial Tobacco Company, Gallaher, Ltd., are the largest manufacturers in the British Isles. It will therefore, not be a matter of surprise that Mr Bell was appointed by the unanimous voice of twenty-three Irish manufacturers, seeing that his firm enjoy much more than 75 per cent. of the tobacco trade in Ireland.