In this section we discuss cooking, domestic hot water and central heating in the period-style home; how do we recapture the essence of the Victorian or Edwardian kitchen when choosing a modern range or range cooker, and central heating boiler options?
For centuries, water was heated and food cooked over an on open fire. During the 19th century the kitchener or kitchen range appeared. Until these became more efficient, a copper was used for heating water, particularly for laundry. Read more about this in our Design History section.
The 20th century saw appliances which specialised in one of these functions; a cooker for cooking, and a boiler for heating water. In parallel with these separate appliances, technological developments brought more efficient 'dry' (cooking only), 'semi-wet' (cooking and domestic hot water) and 'wet' (cooking, domestic hot water and central heating) variants to the traditional range.
The closest modern appliance to the original range is the enamelled range of which the 'AGA' is the best known. The earliest ranges had an open fire but far great fuel efficiency was achieved with the 'Kitchener' designed by William Flavel in 1830 and produced at the Eagle Foundry in Leamington Spa. The cast iron technology from Flavel was passed to Alastair Darby's foundry at Coalbrookdale, to the north-west of Birmingham.
Following the First World War, developments in gas and electricity paved the way for the next generation of cookers. In most households, these were the ancestors of the modern cooker; an oven heated by gas or electricity, with hotplates powered by the same energy source.
However, the range was not obsolete; in the 1920s, Dr. Gustaf Dalen, a Swedish physicist and Nobel Prize winner, worked to develop a modern range that could boil, bake, roast and grill and was easy to use. Dalen devised the AGA; this combined a small and efficient heat source, two large hotplates and two large ovens.
The Rayburn was launched in 1946 with two hotplates, and one or two ovens and the ability to heat water. This improved upon existing designs by having easily adjustable oven temperatures. The original Rayburn came in a cream vitreous enamel finish. The Rayburn was first made in Falkirk, Scotland but, along with the AGA, was made in Coalbrookdale from the end of the Second World War.