Henry Bell

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Bell, Henry (1767–1830). Bell was apprenticed as a millwright, but spent part of his career as the proprietor of a hotel in Helensburgh, where he conceived the idea of a steamboat to bring his clients more easily from Glasgow. Another Scotsman, William Symington, had already demonstrated the effectiveness of a steam-engine in a canal boat in 1789, and Robert Fulton was experimenting with small steam-powered vessels in France and America around the same time. Bell, however, deserves the credit for converting the idea into an economically viable proposition, commissioning the first commercially successful steam vessel, Comet, which was launched on the river Clyde in 1812. Comet, a 30-ton boat equipped with a 3-horse-power steam-engine, plied regularly between Glasgow and Greenock until it was wrecked in 1820.

R. Angus Buchanan

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Bell, Henry (1647–1711). Born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, Bell, English gentleman-architect, appears to have been partly responsible for the replanning and rebuilding of Northampton after the fire of 1675, and to have designed All Saints' Church there (1677–80) as well as some of the façades of houses in the Market Place. Bell's other works are all in King's Lynn: they include the charming Customs House (1683), built as an Exchange; the Market Cross (1707–10)—demolished; two altar-pieces; probably the Duke's Head Inn (c.1684); and various houses. He was also responsible for North Runcton Church, Norfolk (1703–13), and may have designed other buildings in Huns., Norfolk, and Suffolk. He wrote an essay on painting, published posthumously in 1728.


Colvin (1995)