The history of the Aga

A range cooker, heater, and status symbol all in one, the Aga is one of the most iconic kitchen luxuries in the world.

Its story, however, is almost as colourful as the spectrum the cookers themselves come in, and make the idea of owning one even more charming.

The beginning

The Aga was the brainchild of a Swedish physicist, Gustaf Dalén. In 1912, he won a Nobel Prize for his work with acetylene, a highly explosive gas that he used in the Dalén Light. A seemingly low-key discovery, the humble Dalén Light made the seas much safer for sailors everywhere, shining out of lighthouses all over the world.

Sadly, a few months before he was given the honour, Dalén had been blinded by an explosion whilst working with the gas, and was unable to collect the award himself.

Although he had to take a step back from the laboratory after losing his sight, his most famous invention was still to follow, and came only because he had to spend more time at home.

The realisation

He noticed his wife, Elma, was exhausted by trying to get her work done in the kitchen. As such, he set out to try and invent a cooker that was more versatile and easy to use than the other ovens of the time. His solution, with more than a little help from the rest of the family, was the Aga, a cooker that had two ovens (one for roasting, one for warming) and two large stoves (one for boiling, one for simmering), all heated by one gas source.

The impact

The cooker was patented, put in to production, and duly took the world by storm, quickly becoming a firm favourite amongst people who could afford to spend a little more on their kitchens. Amazingly, some Agas that were fitted back when the ovens were first produced are still working today. Sadly, the Aga’s inventor died in 1937 and was outlived by almost all of his cookers.

Today, Agas are celebrated the world over for being a range that is the focal point of a kitchen, and used for much more than just cooking. Whether it’s warming cold hands on a winter’s day, quick-drying clothes for the kids to take to school, or just providing a warm place for the cat to sleep, Agas are an institution that are burning stronger today than ever, adding a touch of style and history to homes all over the world.

Posted by Peter
December 21, 2014

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