Belling Company

Charles R. Belling founded the Belling Company in 1912. Belling had previously worked at the British electrical companies of Crompton and Co. and Ediswan, where he had gained experience making electric heaters. He wanted to develop heaters further and set up in a small shed in Enfield, London, with £150. Two partners, C. L. Arnold and H. E. How, contributed £150 each.

Belling invented the “firebar,” a resistance wire wound around a fireclay former. Like gas radiants, the firebar could be raised almost to incandescence. The result was the Standard, an electric heater that went into production in the same year. It featured six horizontal radiants set in an enameled cast-iron body. It had a hook at the top from which a kettle could be suspended, a fold-down rack for keeping a pot warm and an attachment for toasting bread. Belling acted as a traveling salesman for the the Standard, which was an immediate success, and the company dropped the idea of producing other lines, such as an immersion heater and a kettle, in order to concentrate on its money earner. By 1914 £11,000 worth of heaters had been sold, delivering a profit of £3,500.

The company went into wartime production during 1914–1918 and emerged in a strong position to develop in the 1920s. Belling expanded their range with hotplates, immersion heaters, water urns, irons, steamers, grills, and the No. 7 boiler, a water boiler. They also introduced their first cooker (stove), the Modernette, one of the first lightweight models featuring a sheet steel body, in 1919. The firebar was improved with the Multi-Parabola firebar of 1921. This was a block of fireclay into which grooves comprising parabolic wells had been made. The heating element was formed in a continuous coil and laid in the grooves. This type of element was to be used in millions of electric heaters worldwide. Belling also introduced an imitation coal-fire model in 1921 in response to the market’s continuing love of an “open fire.” Although much derided as a piece of phony design, they proved popular for many years.

Other innovations followed with the introduction of a lightweight horizontal cooker with a waist level oven in 1926 and the compact Baby Belling in 1929. The Baby Belling was similar to the oven unit of the 1926 cooker but with a hotplate on the top. This model remained in production throughout the century. It was ideal for small flats and offices. During the 1930s the company continued to expand its range of heaters, including the Solray reflector heater of 1934, and to produce innovative cookers with glass oven doors.

During World War II, Belling moved to wartime work, producing its only nonelectrical item, an incendiary bomb snuffer. As if by fate, when peace came in 1945 it was Belling who manufactured the Vee cooker for the prefabricated houses designed to help alleviate the severe housing shortage caused by bomb damage. Following the war it produced the 47AB cooker, which was one of the most successful British models of the 1950s. The company expanded during the 1950s and 1960s as postwar consumption grew.

Belling was acquired by the Glen Dimplex group in 1992 and now concentrates on the manufacture of free-standing cookers.