Despite hailing from Sweden, the Aga has become as much a symbol of rural England as thatched cottages and cream teas. We’re delighted that the company added wood-burning stoves to its repertoire several years ago too. So we decided to look back at its many decades of success.
Swedish chemist, Gustaf Dalen, lost his sight during one of his experiments in 1912 – the same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize. No longer able to work and pretty much housebound, he noticed how exhausted his wife seemed to be, taking care of all the housework as well as looking after him.
He decided to design something that did more than one job and, in 1922, he came up with an all-in-one cooker and water heater, which also happened to be handy for drying laundry. And so, the AGA was born.
Britain took delivery of its first solid-fuel AGA cooker in 1929, produced under licence from the Swedish company Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator. Its initials gave rise to the AGA’s now iconic name and was the company who Gustaf Dalen had worked for and who helped him turn his dream into a reality.
Featuring two, large round hotplates together with two ovens cased in a single unit, AGAs are made from heavyweight cast iron, which absorbs and retains heat. It’s the radiant heat it gives off that cooks the food unlike most ovens, which work by heating air to cook with. That’s why food cooked in an AGA is moist and more flavoursome.
Worldwide AGA production is now exclusive to its Shropshire foundry and, whilst their look has changed little over the years, technology has had an impact on the oven’s functionality.
The original AGAs all used solid fuel, with oil-fired and gas varieties introduced back in the sixties. Nowadays, you can turn off your hotplates with the flick of a switch, as well as programme your AGA using an app, even when you’re not at home.
AGAs have always been an eco-dream, with about 70 percent of any new oven being made from recycled materials such as old lamp posts and drain covers. Starting at over £5,000 for the smallest model, an AGA is a real investment, but one that pays off when it comes to selling your home. According to estate agents’ Savills, houses with an AGA sell more quickly.
If you don’t want to spend that much, but still fancy having an AGA of sorts, why not consider one of their wood-burning stoves? The range starts at just over £500 and there are plenty to choose from, which means there’s bound to be one to suit your needs. Most of them have a traditional design and feature a distinctive AGA handle, but there are also some contemporary designs too. Whatever you choose, you can be certain that you’re buying something that will last a lifetime and always provide a warm welcome.
Check out the entire AGA range at www.agastoves.co.uk