Aga HistoryIn 1709, the original Coalbrookdale Company was formed by the great iron master, Abraham Darby. Early products included items such as cooking pots and the foundry produced and laid cast iron rails in 1767 becoming the first company to make iron wheels and rails for the railroad industry. However, it is the casting and building of the iron bridge over the River Severn in 1779 which is recognized as the most prominent achievement of the Coalbrookdale Company.
By the mid 1930s another dimension to iron casting was introduced by Francis Darby. Francis had a great love of art and under his guidance, the foundry started to produce ornamental castings including tables and garden furniture as well as larger projects such as the "Hyde Park" gates and railings.
In 1929, the Coalbrookdale Company became a subsidiary of Allied Ironfounders Limited and continued to produce the castings for a wide variety of products including domestic heating and cooking appliances such as the Aga. Today, the foundry continues to manufacture these quality, cast iron cooking instruments.
The ProcessThe foundry in Coalbrookdale is responsible for producing all the castings for Aga and every product reflects the heritage and traditional craftsmanship that sets Aga apart. The complete process of casting and enameling takes place at two sites - the Coalbrookdale foundry and the Aga factory in Ketley, six miles away.
CastingThe raw materials used at Coalbrookdale are scrap iron and pig iron which are melted down at temperatures of 3,272 DEG F. Before it has a chance to cool down, the molten metal is poured into moulds. The castings are then removed from the molds and left to cool. The castings are then shot blasted and moved to the dressing department where rough edges are removed. The castings are then transported to the Aga-Rayburn site at Ketley where they are then annealed and blasted with iron shot at 72lb a square inch before being filed by hand. This prepares the castings for the enameling process.
EnamelingAga cookers have a vitreous enamel surface because it is long-lasting, scratch resistant and the color doesn`t fade. Vitreous enamel is a mixture of molten glass, clay and pigment that is permanently bonded onto cast iron at very high temperatures to form a tough, gloss finish. All the colors are produced from metal oxides and the entire enameling process is done by hand. The whole procedure takes three days.
At the start of the enameling process, an undercoat is sprayed onto the castings and the castings are then put into a large oven at 1,445 DEG F for 40 minutes. A further two layers of enamel are then sprayed onto the castings and then fired at 1,427 DEG F. The color is then analyzed by computer and the proportion of pigment for that batch is recorded as part of the serial number. The doors and front panels are then carefully color matched into perfectly matching sets.