The port is named after Sir Hesketh Bell, a British commissioner, who took over administration of Britain's interests in Uganda in 1906. Its rail link is a branch line from the Kampala-Jinja main line.
Lake Victoria ferries operate from Port Bell linking Kampala to other railhead ports on Lake Victoria including Jinja, Kisumu and Mwanza. The Port Bell ferry wharf is visible on high-resolution Google Earth photos at latitude 0.2885° longitude 32.653°. A ferry is shown loading truck and rail coaches while another waits.
When the first stage of the Uganda Railway was completed in 1901, the railhead was at Kisumu, 12 hours journey from Port Bell by ship. Ferries brought goods by lake between Port Bell and Kisumu. It was not until 1931 that a branch line of the railway from Nakuru reached Kampala and then Port Bell.
East African Breweries Limited is a large East African brewing company which owns 80% of Kenya Breweries, 98.2% of Uganda Breweries, 100% of Central Glass - a glass manufacturer, 100% of Kenya Maltings and 46% of United Distillers and Vintners (Kenya) Limited, 100% of International Distilers Uganda, 100% EABL International (responsible for exporting), 100% of East African Maltings, 100% EABL Foundation and 51% of Serengeti Breweries limited.
Kenya Breweries was founded in 1922 by two white settlers, George and Charles Hurst.The company is owned by the Dodd family of Kenya. By 1990, most of the shareholders were Kenyan and the company was very successful.
Tanzania Breweries had been started by Kenya Breweries in the 1930s. After being nationalized in 1967, Tanzania Breweries was poorly managed. However, in 1993 the Tanzanian government entered into a joint venture with South African Breweries Limited to run Tanzania Breweries. South African Breweries is one of the largest and most efficient brewing companies in the world. They turned Tanzania Breweries around with extraordinary speed, almost tripling production in the space of three years.
In 2002 East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and SABMiller Plc. effected a share swap of their interests in their subsidiaries: Kenya Breweries Limited and Tanzania Breweries Limited. EABL acquired 20% of the equity of Tanzania Breweries. SABMiller Plc. acquired a 20% equity stake in Kenya Breweries.
The partnership between EABL and SAB Miller in Tanzania went through turbulence in 2009, EABL claiming breach of contract by Tanzania Breweries (TBL) that led to low quality of EABL’s drinks that were produced by TBL and restriction of some of Diageo’s and EABL brands to enter the Tanzanian market. This led to EABL’s acquisition of 51% of Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) and exit from TBL’s shareholder structure. SAB Miller still holds 20% in Kenya Breweries.
In 2003, Kenya Breweries consumed almost 6 % of the Nairobi water supply.
The largest shareholder is Diageo Plc. EABL's primary listing is on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, and is cross-listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange and Dar-es-Salaam Stock Exchanges.