This was one of my most enjoyable restorations. The challenge was to bring a mighty ‘Gold Medal Eagle Range’ back to life. It is a twin oven range but with no boiler as the water was heated in a couple of coppers that occupied the basement in which it was found. The range was discovered behind some stud walling when the house was being renovated. The owners had actually owned the house for a number of years and had only used the cavernous basement as storage. It was then, to their delight and surprise when they chanced upon the range mid way through their project.
The range was carefully removed but was in a bit of a state. Anything made out of metal doesn’t like to be locked away in damp spaces for years on end. The range is a 1886 model having been produced in the Eagle foundry in Birmingham and sold by their showrooms on 2nd Street, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol.
The Eagle Range attained its Gold Medal title after being awarded one at Prince Albert’s ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1853. It was high technology of the time and received great interest throughout the exhibition culminating in the Duchess of Gloucester being so empressed she ordered one for the kitchens of Kensington Palace. The Emperor of Germany, King of Italy and Edward the VII were all also owners of such ranges.
The restoration began with a ‘rough up’ to ascertain what was present and what was not. Luckily, save a few ancillary brackets and the like, everything was present albeit in varying states of neglect. In the photo below you can see the significant damage to either cheek of the fire box.
It’s important to understand the functions and assembly of the range before it is restored.
One large problem when restoring items of this nature is heat fatigue in cast iron. It is hard enough to repair at the best of times but when it gets into this state it can be a real problem. This is the central hot plate that sits directly above the fire box and takes the majority of the flack that the fire gives out. It had to channel section out and weld steel bar in to help hold it together. The only other option would have been to have it recast which would have been my preference but the budget would not allow it.
There was an incredible amount of snapped, chipped and broken cast iron that needed sections welding back in. I leave all my steel destined for restorations in the weather so it can ‘patinate’ and make a seamless fix.
Freshly back from the blasters and for the most part as good as the day they left the foundry.
The first dry assembly after a light coat of black lead.The incredible detail and casting of the ovens and firebox.
Here is the range assembled (less two tiles!). My apologies for the quality of the photo. It was a very dark and dusty basement. Sadly this range will not be used again and has been installed in a fake chimney breast as a feature of the new kitchen.