Cast in Fire Part 1 – The History of AGA Ranges

Metropolitan Appliance is very excited to begin carrying the AGA Range line of ranges and cooktops. We have been aware of them for decades and we can proudly say that we are the only authorized AGA Range dealer in Seattle and the Puget Sound area.

So who are AGA and why did we decide to carry this brand? The AGA story begins, believe it or not, over 200 years ago in 1803. This is where the Flavel family moved to Lemington Spa to build a factory, which eventually turned into a foundry in 1833 which allowed William Flavel to create, expand and develop the Kitchener Range Cooker.

Made out of cast iron and heated by solid fuel (think wood and coal), the Kitchener was used to boil, roast, bake and warm – all from the same heat source. This was completely revolutionary and was hailed as one of the greatest home inventions of the 19th century. Following the death of William, his son Sidney took over the company in 1844 and would go on to show the Kitchener at the Crystal Palace at the Great Exposition. So impressed by the range, Queen Victoria’s aunt, The Duchess of Gloucester, ordered one for Kensington Palace.

In the 1920’s, the classic AGA range that we know and love today, was invented by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Gustaf Dalen. He was inspired by his wife who was constantly tending the stove. He set out to create a cooker with consistent results, but at the same time could be capable of every culinary technique. The Classic AGA range that the world knows and loves was born.

As World War II was raging, people in AGA’s homeland, Britain, were clinging to their AGA ranges as a lifeline to normalcy. The British government ordered many of these ranges for their canteens, communal feeding centers and hospitals. Demand was so high, that the normally quick turn around time for a new AGA range went to 27 weeks. Due to this increase in demand, AGA opened another foundry in Shropshire, a small village in the Ironbridge Gorge. While this sounds like the perfect place to smelt iron, it was even more so, as this was the location where in 1709 that iron was first smelted with coke which kick-started the Industrial Revolution.

Today, the AGA Classic range is made much the same way it was back in the 1940’s, every AGA cooker is still manufactured by hand by skilled craftsmen. Molten iron is poured into casting molds before every AGA cooker is given multiple coats of vitreous enamel. The process takes place over a period of three days!

In 1956, AGA De Luxe models, which has only been originally crème, was offered in pale blue, pale green, grey and white, which proved hugely popular with AGA enthusiasts throughout England and the rest of the world.

The 1960’s saw a major change to how the AGA range was used. Up until this point, AGA ranges still used solid fuel. Now, gas and oil heating was a much more convenient and easy to access fuel, the first AGA range heated by oil came out. Two years later, the gas version was introduced. In addition to these major changes, they also added more colors to reflect the change in taste over the last decade. Now dark blue, red, yellow and black enamel were available.

In order to keep up with the times, and to get away from what may have been a more stodgy look, the 1970’s saw the first AGA range that was manufactured to look more like a traditional cooker, made out of sheet metal instead of cast iron, and still available in a wide range of colors. As we learn more about the different models in the upcoming blogs, you will see why this change was embraced as another option from the AGA family of ranges.

The 1980’s saw AGA turn 50, and in true British style, a lavish party was thrown at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. In 1985, AGA launched its very first electric range that had two ovens and then came out with four ovens. This was significant, as it was the first time that an AGA cooker did not need a flue, as it vented through a small pipe out of the back of the oven.

In the 1990’s. AGA brought real change to its products. Up until now, you have had an always on cooker that was available whenever you needed it and it also helped warm the home. Now, they added an electric cooktop module that could be fit to the left of the unit to diversify the AGA range experience. At the end of this decade, AGA made a concentrated effort to push into the American market for the first time.

In the early 2000’s, an engineering breakthrough allowed them to place a third oven in a space where there had normally been two. Now, you had three ovens with specific uses. Roasting, keeping warm and baking. We will get more into exactly how these ranges work in a later blog. Just after this was released, they also released the 13-amp electric AGA, complete with standard household plug, and this changed the AGA family forever. It needs no flue, and can go almost anywhere in the kitchen. Nearly half of all AGA range cookers sold today are 13-amp electric models.

As you can see, this company has a storied history and with such a different type of range, we at Metropolitan Appliance really felt that we needed to go a little further in depth to such a different type of range. Our next blog post will detail the newer versions of the AGA range such as the Elise, the Mercury and the Professional. The final blog will detail all of the amazing features of the Classic. There is a lot of ground to cover here! In the meantime, if you have any further questions on this amazing company and their appliances, please give us a call, chat or text and we will be more than happy to go over the different models for you!

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