Bells 1950s Milk Bar is a Broken Hill icon where you can explore our fascinating social history and experience a rare insight into Australia’s unique milk bar and cafe culture.
The original 1950’s decor, old style malted milks and soda spiders along with the attached milk bar museum and nostalgic gift shop has seen Bells recognised with multiple tourism awards and people often travel hundreds of miles just to get their hands on a Bells drink.
Visitors can have a similar experience at Bells today as they may have in the 1950s or 1960s. Imagine sipping a malted milk or traditional soda spider amidst the original chrome fittings and furniture while listening to the ‘latest’ 1950s music or reading a 1956 magazine.
The adventurous can choose from over 50 original flavours or drinks and they’re all made using Bells own handmade syrups and cordials manufactured to Les Bell’s Famous Secret Recipe in small batches right on the premises, just like they always have.
After your indulgence, check out the Milk Bar Museum where you can learn all about the fascinating world of Australia’s milk bars and cafes and gain a valuable insight into a part of our 20th century social history that has all but disappeared. It features a range of original Bells and other milk bar memorabilia and photos to browse.
There’s also some modern conveniences like organic single origin espresso coffee and a range of herbal teas. Customer facilities such as free wireless Internet, customer toilets means that visitors can hang around a while and soak up the atmosphere
A Long Running Business
Bells is known as one of the longest continuously running businesses in Broken Hill. Originally it was called Fenton’s confectioner and cordial maker in 1892, and has known several major renovations over the years.
In the early 1900s it was known as Longmans, and Minnie Pearl (Pearly) Longman survived her husband John who was killed in the fist world war. She later remarried Les Bell Senior and their son, Les Bell and his wife Mavis are the proprietors most people remember today.
Pearly Bell dramatically altered the shop expanding the interior in 1938, and when she passed the business on to Les and Mavis in 1953, it was not long before Les followed in his mother’s footsteps, drastically altering the design in 1956 and this is largely how the site remains today.
Flavours of Bells
While the overall experience is worthwhile, many people come to Bells to sample the drinks. The syrups and cordials used for the old style malted milks and soda spiders are hand made onsite in two-gallon batches just like they always have. This means that the shop can produce a diverse variety of flavours that other larger companies can no longer stock.
Generations of locals have been weaned on Bells drinks and this shop is a great place to learn about the important social history of the milk bars in our past.