A view of the Upper Works at Coalbrookdale in 1758
Ironbridge over the River Severn
Coalbroodale Foundry entrance - 2008
AGA celebrates 300 years of casting iron at its foundry in Coalbrookdale – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of the Industrial Revolution
300 years ago this year at AGA’s foundry in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, Abraham Darby first smelted iron ore with coke – primarily to make cast-iron cooking pots and the innovation triggered the entire Industrial Revolution – hence the foundry is globally acknowledged to be the birthplace of industry. The Group has made cooking pots there for 300 years, progressing into the production of solid fuel fires and cast-iron ranges. The tradition continued after the Second World War with the introduction of the famous AGA and Rayburn stoves, which are only made at Coalbrookdale for both UK and export markets.
AGA will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of cast-iron cooking at Coalbrookdale in 2009. There will be: - 300th year limited edition AGA in three colours (Black, Cream and Duck Egg Blue) with a specially designed integral AGA motif.
Duck Egg Blue cookware set will be launched with the original Coalbrookdale trademark. The set will include cast iron trivet, round casserole and chef’s dishes, grill pan and round AGA chef’s pad with new Teapot design.
The celebration of this anniversary has been embraced by all at AGA Rangemaster. Commenting on its importance William McGrath, Chief Executive, AGA Rangemaster Group plc said: “The AGA foundry in Coalbrookdale is the birthplace of industry. We should celebrate the historical importance of our cast-iron cooking pots and show how with AGA and Rayburn we are still innovating British made products with international significance.”
Coalbrookdale and the Industrial Revolution
In 1707 Abraham Darby patented a method of moulding and casting domestic iron cooking pots in sand. To exploit the full potential of his ideas he needed a blast furnace in which to produce his own iron. It was this need that drew him to the Severn and to Coalbrookdale and its well established ironworks.
In 1709 in the steep wooded valley of Coalbrookdale, Abraham Darby smelted iron ore using coke as a fuel instead of charcoal. It was a creative leap that would allow the iron industry to break free from the restrictions of needing resources – water and timber – which were immediately to hand and to expand dramatically, exploiting the seemingly unlimited potential of fossil fuels and steam power. Abraham Darby’s casting techniques for cooking pots were used to make cylinders for steam engines and with that whole new industrial opportunities opened up.
For a time in the 18th Century, Coalbrookdale was the centre of the industrial world. The Ironbridge over the River Severn built by Abraham Darby III, completed in 1781, showed what could be done with cast-iron.
The innovations and cycles of industrial development that radiated out from the events of 1709 have changed how people live, work and communicate across the globe – but cooking and heating the home have always been at the heart of the Coalbrookdale foundry. Today, AGA’s foundry manager is the 32nd successor of Abraham Darby himself.
In 1959 to celebrate the 250th anniversary, Allied Ironfounders, pre cursors to AGA Rangemaster, excavated remains of Darby’s original furnace and established a Museum of Ironfounding. Today the site is cared for by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
The foundry - that is acknowledged as the birthplace of industry - became in 1986 one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
As part of the celebrations to mark Coalbrookdale’s 300th anniversary – a milestone in British industrial history – AGA has launched a limited-production 3-oven AGA in Duck Egg Blue.
The new model will feature an exclusive hand-enamelled AGA motif cast into the top left oven door. This motif – which will also be applied to both black and cream special-edition stoves within the range – distinguishes these limited-production models and will only be available during 2009.
Duck Egg Blue was previously part of the AGA range from 1956 to 1972, although then named Pale Blue. Every 300th anniversary AGA will be fitted with a specially produced data plate featuring an exclusive serial number and anniversary logo. The new shade will be available on the 3-oven AGA, with or without a module.
AGA is also introducing a number of limited-production cookware pieces to complement the Duck Egg Blue AGA. Among the new pieces will be a trivet featuring the Coalbrookdale commemorative logo, the popular 2.3 litre round casserole dish with lid, a grill pan, chef’s dish and chef's pad.
Nils Gustaf Dalén
(30 November 1869 – 9 December 1937) was a Swedish Nobel Laureate and industrialist, the founder of the AGA company and inventor of the AGA stove and the Dalén light. In 1912 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "invention of automatic regulators for use in conjunction with gas accumulators for illuminating lighthouses and buoys".
In 1929 he invented the AGA stove. Most of the testing for the stove was made in his private kitchen in his Villa Ekbacken that was built when AGA moved to Lidingö in 1912 but that he never actually had a chance too see with his own eyes. His family helped him with the development work, checking temperaturs, airflow etc, as the development work proceeded. Despite his blindness, Dalén controlled AGA until his death in 1937. He received over 100 patents during his lifetime.
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