The Secret History Of: The AGA cooker
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Friday 02 July 2010
Beloved by the middle classes and owners of farmhouses, the AGA is a totemic symbol of country living. There is usually a wet dog lying in front of it, a pile of laundry steaming gently on it, and preferably the aroma of baking rising from within.
The AGA is an opinion divider though. There are those who refuse to cook on anything else, and the rest who point scornfully to the fact that when you raise the lids you lose heat from the oven. Or the fact that while brilliant at heating the house in winter, they have the same effect in summer – which is less brilliant.
So how did the AGA come about? Well, it was, as is often the case with the best inventions, an accident. Gustaf Dalé*was a Swedish Nobel Prize winner, who was blinded when a bulb he was testing for an automatic flashing lighthouse exploded. On returning home he was apparently appalled to discover how much time his wife and the maid spent tending the oven and resolved to invent a cooker that could be left on all the time and didn't need constant attention.
Laura James, an AGA representative (Aga-web.co.uk; 0845 7125207), says: "He designed his AGA in 1922 and seven years later, a British company had bought the licence and from then on it was made in Britain."
All AGAs are now made at a Shropshire foundry, which has been listed as a world heritage site because of its importance as the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
"They are popular in Sweden but it is the British who have really taken AGAs to their hearts, says James. "They suit our damp climate and they make our houses cosy and they are so multi-tasking. You can make toast, cook food, dry laundry, revive lambs."
Well the last point might not be vital for most of us, but James points out that these days you can programme your AGA to run on a low temperature while you are out at work and gear itself up ready for cooking when you get back.
"I am sitting next to mine on one of the hottest days of the year and it's fine, but people refuse to believe it," she says. "The fact that they are programmable has removed one of the main objections that people use to have."
An AGA is almost completely recyclable and around 70 per cent of each one is now made from previously used material – this can include car gearboxes, guttering, lamp posts, door fitting and drain covers. You can choose the fuel that suits you. AGAs can run on natural gas, kerosene, diesel and electricity.
So if you want one, get your cheque book out – they start at £4,995 including installation, although a survey by estate agents Savills found that houses with AGAs sell faster than those without and you do get the cost back when you sell your house.
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
£17000 - £25000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Birmingham office of thi...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: HoD Maths Salary: MP...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Client based in West London is looking ...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English MP...