Richard Bell was born at Merthyr Tydfil in 1859. He joined the Great Western Railway Company in 1876. Bell was active in the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and became organizing secretary of the union in 1893. Five years later he was elected General Secretary of the railway union.
Bell was selected as the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) candidate for Derby. In the 1900 General ElectionBell joined James Keir Hardie as the two LRC members of the House of Commons. However, once in Parliament, Richard Bell associated himself with the Liberal Party.
Bell was replaced by another railwayman, Jimmy Thomas, at the 1910 General Election . After leaving the House of Commons, Bell joined the Employment Exchange branch of the Board of Trade. Bell retired from the Board of Trade in 1920 but continued in local politics and served as a member of the Southgate Urban District Council (1922-29). Richard Bell died on 1st May, 1930.