Bellway plc (LSE: BWY) is a major British residential property developer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
The Company was founded in 1946 by John Thomas Bell and his sons John and Russell as a housebuilder operating in Newcastle upon Tyne under the name John T. Bell & Sons. In 1951 Kenneth Bell, the youngest of the brothers, joined the business.
The three brothers also developed commercial property in the 1950s and their company, North British Properties, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1961. In 1963, North British acquired John T Bell in a reverse takeover.
The Bell family managed to tap into the huge demand for private housing that followed World War II promoting developments such as Cramlington New Town, built in partnership with William Leech in the early 1960's. Bellway developed a substantial housebuilding operation in the north of England and sales reached 1,500 units in 1972 with a further 500 in the newly formed Australian and French subsidiaries. In 1973, Bellway moved into the south-east with the purchase of A & R A Searle. The group continued to expand through England in the 1970s but its overseas operations were less successful and were eventually closed.
In 1979 the "Bellway" private housebuilding business was demerged from the commercial side of the business under the leadership of Kenneth Bell. In 1981 Bellway and fellow Newcastle housebuilder William Leech announced a merger but it was called off within days: "the lifestyle of the two firms looked pretty incompatible".
Diversification had not been wholly satisfactory; Ken Bell became largely non-executive and the day-to-day running of the business was assumed by Howard Dawe. Howard Dawe reorganised the business, resumed the regional expansion on a more profitable basis and increased the Company's focus on regeneration sites.
Family involvement with the Company ended with the death of Kenneth Bell in 1997.