Coventry & Warwickshire

Aga: The heart of the country kitchen

Aga Image copyright PA
Image caption The first Aga was designed in Sweden in 1922

Aga, which has been manufacturing stoves in England since 1930, has been sold to a US firm in a deal valued at £129m. Although invented in Sweden, Aga is the story of a quintessentially English brand, often associated with "foodies" and affluent country-dwellers alike.

The Aga is considered by many to be the heart of the country kitchen - a romanticised iron cooking range that is always on; baking bread, roasting meats or just boiling the kettle.

The Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator was designed by Swedish scientist Gustaf Dalen in 1922 with production starting in Shropshire in 1929.

The original was heated by slow-burning coal but fuel options today include gas, electricity and biofuel.

Famous owners include Paul McCartney, David Cameron, TV chefs Delia Smith and Marco Pierre White, and the Prince of Wales.

'More natural'

Mary Berry, judge on BBC One's The Great British Bake Off, said her Aga "makes her want to cook", while actor Gerard Depardieu described his as "fabulous".

Jamie Oliver said Agas "make people better cooks", and food writer William Sitwell said using one was a "much more natural way of cooking".

Cookery writer Lucy Young, author of books including the Ultimate Aga Cookbook, said the Aga was the heart of the home.

The AGA saga

The Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator

350,000

UK households with an AGA (lowest estimate)

  • 1922 Swede Gustaf Dalen designed the first AGA to help his wife cook, heat and dry laundry

  • 2,553 People employed by AGA in seven countries

  • £261m AGA's revenue in 2014, up from £250m in 2013

AGA

She said: "I wouldn't be without on; they just make life easier and you can do anything you want in them.

"They are always on and ready. You wouldn't leave something cooking on a normal hob while you go to the pub, but you can with an Aga And they last a lifetime."

In 2009 the Daily Telegraph found the oldest Aga in a family home in West Sussex still going strong 77 years after being installed.

They range in price from £2,795 to £11,775.

Although the idea of British companies being bought by foreign firms may be unpalatable to some, Mike Spicer, director of research and economics at the British Chamber of Commerce, said such decisions needed to be taken dispassionately and objectively.

He said: "You've got go ask yourself what is the bigger priority - making sure the company can still exist as a brand, or staying British but failing.

"Jaguar Land Rover is a good example of where a takeover has worked, the company has flourished because of it and I don't think many people would argue that its being taken over by [the Indian company] Tata was a bad thing."

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