Bells Milk Bar and Museum

Bells 1950s Milk Bar is a Broken Hill icon where you can explore the city's 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 travelling hundreds of kilometres just to get their hands on a Bells milkshake.

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. 

Bells Milk bar Alfresco dining area

 

The adventurous can choose from over 50 original flavours or drinks all made using Bells own syrups and cordials manufactured to Les Bell’s Secret Recipe in small batches right on the premises.

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 valuable insights 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.

Bells' Apple pie and icecream

 

There’s also some modern conveniences like organic single origin espresso coffee and a range of herbal teas and free wireless Internet.

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 endured 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. 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.

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. 

Bells Milk Bar TTV from Jason King on Vimeo.