Betty’s is 90

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Apologies to all those of you who e-mailed reminding me that I had missed the anniversary of the Yorkshire institution, Betty’s.
For the person or two who isn’t aware, Betty’s is a teashop. Not just any old teashop. The main branch in St Peter’s Square in York gets over a million visitors a year which makes it a rather large tourist attraction. This branch is not the original site; that was around the corner but this one has a story. In 1936 Frederick Belmont was on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary. Liking the décor, he used the same designers to come up with the shop design and the interior which, if you look closely, can be seen to resemble the architecture you see on a ship.
The shop was started in 1919 by Frederick Belmont and today it is still run by the Belmont family. With six shops in Harrogate, Ilkley, Northallerton and York itself, the family refuses to open shops outside Yorkshire despite the temptations and offers it has had.
Prepare to join queues to get in though at least at St Peter’s. As one of the impatient sort, my wife insisted we go there and, at two thirty on a June day we had to wait half an hour to get a table. But once inside you aren’t hurried. There’s no feeling of get in/get fed/get out which some places have.
So apart from Harrods, Hamleys and a few others, there can’t be many shops that are tourist attractions in their own right. And with a million visitors that puts them ahead of places such as Stonehenge, the Houses of Parliament, Canterbury Cathedral and York’s National Railway Museum.

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