The Secret History Of: The AGA cooker

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.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there