The man behind the Harrogate-based Bettys tearoom and bakery empire was an orphan said to have created a business that would act as a substitute family.

It is more than a century since Swiss-born Frederick Belmont brought his skills to Yorkshire, overseeing the growth of his vision from a single tearoom with a bakery above to the famous brand it has become.

Despite the passage of time, the company has retained the family atmosphere its creator strove to achieve to the point that today, 79 of its 885-strong workforce have more than 20 years of service and many also have family connections with the firm which span generations.

The caring approach stretches far beyond its workforce, however, with the business now claiming carbon zero status, meaning its activities do not contribute to climate change.

It is a legacy that would have doubtless pleased Mr Belmont, who ended up in England because he could not afford the qualifications needed to pursue a career in baking in his native Switzerland.

Bettys founder Frederick Belmont

He reputedly lost the address he was meant to travel to in this country and ended up in Bradford, instead. After working in that city, the new business was launched in Harrogate in 1919. It was a new style of tearoom, featuring cut flowers on the tables and live music playing, specifically designed to appeal to a female audience as well as men, who had previously been more comfortable in the smoky environment of traditional cafes.

The formula worked and he was able to expand with branches in Leeds, Bradford and York, served by a Harrogate bakery, before his death in 1952.

A nephew took control of the business and in the 1960s Taylors of Harrogate, a tea and coffee business, was amalgamated into the firm.

Two of today’s benchmarks – the Parliament Street tearooms in Harrogate and Yorkshire Tea – are relative newcomers, however. The tearoom moved to its current location in 1974, with the Yorkshire Tea brand launched three years later.

Over the decades, certain products have taken on their own identity, not least Yorkshire Tea and the legendary fat rascal scones. Those have become such a fixture of the Bettys menu that in 2021 a dizzying 1.9m were baked and sold through shops, tearooms and home deliveries.

The portfolio of tearooms may have changed, with outlets in Bradford and Leeds lost, and others in Ilkley, York, Harlow Carr and Northallerton joining the roster, but the original company ethos of creating a family environment remains.

Bettys archivist Mardi Jacobs said: “There are generations of families within the business, not just long-servers. I think there are a number of things which attract people to the business, including the family ethos.

“I think people develop really deep friendships within the business. It is hard to explain if you have not experienced it; there is a sense of magic.”