AGA Rangemaster Group plc. Registered in England & Wales under Registered Number 354715. Juno Drive, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV31 3RG


This article was written on 18 Jul 2014, and is filled under Rangemaster History.

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Flavel’s Kitchener

William Flavel(1819-1892), iron-founder and businessman,  invented the ‘Leamington Kitchener’ – considered to be the progenitor of modern cookers. He set up a manufacturing company which in 1803 his son, John Flavel, moved to Leamington Spa. Today the Rangemaster factory is still based where the Eagle Foundry was situated and some architectural aspects of the original building remain evident, including a stone eagle carved into the wall of the building.

In a brochure from the Group’s archives we read:

“Truly were John and William Flavel pioneers of enterprise! With what was great foresight at the time, a branch establishment was opened in the rapidly growing village of Leamington, that was to become a prosperous health resort in Regency days. William Flavel’s many inventions – his vapour baths – are not of concern here, excepting the greatest of all, ‘The Patent Kitchener’, superseding the open fire and spit for cooking purposes.”

In 19th century the Flavel company was the largest employer in the area. The mighty Eagle Foundry was built in 1833. Thanks to Obsessionistas we can read a quote from the Great Western Official Illustrated Guide (1861):

Approaching Leamington, and close to the line, may be observed the spacious and most important premises of the firm. The Eagle Foundry is the largest manufacturer of the kind in the world and especially prominent in a new manufacturing town like Leamington. An idea of the magnitude of the operations of the firm may be gathered from the fact that 100 hands are constantly employed, and not less than 50 kitchen ranges of various sizes, from 3 ft. wide to 16 ft., suitable for the cottage or the palace, are made every week.”

The Kitchener was hailed as one of the greatest domestic institutions of the 19th century. In 1851 John Flavel exhibited the Kitchener at the Great Exhibition, in Crystal Palace. The exhibition celebrated the supremacy of British manufacturing and was attended by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, along with her aunt, the Duchess of Gloucester. The Duchess was so impressed with the Kitchener she ordered one for Kensington Palace.

A brochure for the Kitcheners from our archives describes the range:

One quality only – the Best. Flavel’s kitcheners are made to standard patterns, and all the parts are interchangeable and many be removed without trouble, and every wearing part is made so that it may be changed or renewed without difficulty. The cooking efficiency of Flavel’s Kitchener is due to the perfect heating of the ovens, these being improved down draught cheeks for bottom heating, the best method for making pastry and also use of hot-plate. The range is fitted with a double flue oven fire, so the heat can be controlled accurately, when it’s desired to use as a back boiler. The ovens are most carefully constructed on a scientific principle, being extra large, ventilated with pipes and valves, which ensure warm air being drawn through the ovens.

Flavel’s Leamington Sotves were awarded Prize medals over a period of 83 years from 1851 to 1933. The 1851 Flavel medal, accompanied by its surviving original certificate is amongst 36 international awards gained between 1840 and 1937 still preserved.

In November 2011 a blue plaque was unveiled at the former home of Sidney Flavel Senior, (1819-1892), in Newbold Terrace, Leamington Spa. The guests included Sidney Flavel’s great-great grandson Mike Wilmot, Rangemaster chief executive William McGrath and and Leamington mayor Cllr Alan Wilkinson.

To have a look at the modern Kitchener from Rangemaster click here.

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