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This article was written on 12 Nov 2014, and is filled under AGA History, Rangemaster History.

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The Stockton Test

The Stockton test was a full-scale demonstration, under the provisions of the 1949 Housing Act, by which Allied Ironfounders showed how millions of out-of-date working-class houses can be brought up to modern standards of decency and comfort instead of being knocked down. The purpose was to upgrade the houses while keeping the community sense that went with terraced house life.

W.T.Wren, the managing director of AGA Heat and Allied Ironfounders, was a keen supporter of good design and family-friendly living. He brought into the company world-known designers like Raymond Loewy, Carl Otto and Douglas Scott. The work he assigned to Dorothy Braddell, a pioneer of kitchen design, showed the AGA cooker at the center of family life and conveyed the idea that the house should not be just a utility space but a warm and welcome home.

The revival of civil production post war was a critical period in British economic history. Most of the houses built in UK before 1914 were falling below what was considered a good standard of living. There was considerable concern felt among the building trades, and the Ironfounders in particular, about how this problem could be addressed.  For this reason, the Allied Ironfounders Ltd decided to undertake what became known as the ‘Stockton Test’.

The eyes of the nation were on Stockton.  The outcome of the Stockton Test was eagerly awaited by Local Authorities up and down the land.  The Ironfounders commissioned a film which was made available to all Local Authorities to demonstrate what could be achieved.  The film was shown to members of the House of Commons and also appeared in a BBC television programme broadcast on July 1st 1954.

It was generally agreed that the Stockton Test clearly demonstrated that it was possible to extend the life of a vast amount of the nation’s housing stock, and while not as attractive as the new council housing being built on the out-of-town estates, a lot of tenants said they would prefer to have their houses renovated and stay in their communities rather than to move to the new estates.” (Source: a really interesting article about the Stockton Test on The Stockton-on-Tees Heritage website)

Fortunately we have saved in our archives a brochure on the Stockton Test and I would like to share some key fragments from it:

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