Traditional Aga Cooker Explained
Beneath the classic good looks, a heart of cast iron steadily transfers heat from its core to the large ovens and hotplates. This heat storage concept is outstandingly efficient and was invented by Swedish Nobel prize winner, Dr Gustaf Dalen in the early 1920’s.
Each new Aga is made the same way today as it has always been: by pouring molten iron into moulds. This process gives each casting a characteristic surface (every one is unique) and helps Aga rise above the usual mass-produced uniformity. While most manufacturers spray paint a cooker in seconds, it still takes skilled artisans three days to apply the multiple, protective coats of gleaming vitreous enamel that ensure an Aga Cooker’s working life is measured in decades, not years. Of course, the modern Aga contains state-of-the-art technology and is subject to rigorous quality and the latest environmental standards.
Whatever the fuel type, be it electricity, gas or oil, the generated heat is passed around the Aga Cooker using conducting plates and high levels of insulation within the outer casing and beneath the hotplate covers ensure every Aga uses fuel economically. A small amount of energy is importantly reserved to keep the kitchen wonderfully warm and welcoming.
An Aga may be ready for action 24 hours a day, but by storing heat so effectively it will use a surprisingly small amount of fuel. Just imagine, no waiting for the oven to preheat and no need to constantly turn numerous knobs and dials. This hassle free principle is totally different to a conventional cooker which is turned on and off, repeatedly heating up and then quickly losing heat.
Where did it all start?
The Aga Cooker may seem a very British product, but it was actually invented by a Swedish scientist named Gustaf Dalen. Gustaf was the fourth of five children, and even though a school teacher once commented ‘Gustaf is no use for anything’, he went on to become Sweden’s most important Nobel prize winner.Amongst other inventions, Dalen invented the ingenious Sun valve, an apparatus that automatically switches lighthouse beacons on during darkness and off again at dawn. In 1909 Dalen ascended to Managing Director of Svenska Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator (AGA for short) but only three years later, the inventor was seriously injured during an experiment and tragically lost his sight.
Through the support of his family and colleagues, Gustaf recovered and remained the president of AGA for a further 25 years. Gustaf and his four children created the cooker we know and love today – the first low energy, coke fuelled Aga Cooker (named after his company) was born in 1929.
This innovation triggered the entire Industrial Revolution, and is the reason why this picturesque part of Shropshire is globally acknowledged to be the birthplace of industry. The production of cooking pots progressed to solid fuel fires and cast-iron ranges, a tradition that continued after the Second World War with the introduction of the famous Aga and Rayburn cookers. To this day, these legendary appliances are made only at Coalbrookdale for both home and export markets.