Henry Douglas Bell, chemist and metallurgist, was the son of Joseph Charters Bell and his wife Mary McCulloch Bell. He came to South Africa before or in 1912, settled in Johannesburg, and in due course became a South African citizen. In 1912 he became a member of the South African Chemical Institute, even though he did not have any tertiary qualifications. From 1929 to 1941 he served as an alternative member of council and he was still a member of the institute, living in Johannesburg, in 1958. He first married Mary Agnes Kyle, but they were divorced in 1940. Subsequently he married Isabella Sim (born Young), a divorcee. He had one daughter.
Bell was responsible for several published contributions to his field. These included a paper on the distillation of coal tar, published in the Journal of the South African Chemical Institute (1921, Vol. 4(1), p. 8). In another paper, read before the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa (1924), he addressed a serious problem experienced by the gold mines of the Witwatersrand, namely the decay of mine timber. It dealt with "Impregnation of mine timber with zinc sulphate for protection against attack by fungi". A third paper dealt with "Chromium in cyanide solutions" (Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgial and Mining Society of South Africa, 1936). In what may have been his final contribution he discussed "Potential treatment of complex silicates and iron-aluminium phosphate" (Ibid, 1948).