Although Leamington became famous as a spa resort, the flames of its industrial prosperity were lit by the Flavel family, who helped to build the town in the 19th century.
In 1803 John Flavel moved his ironworks operation to Leamington and in 1833 the mighty Eagle Foundry was built.
John’s son William Flavel invented the ‘Leamington Kitchener’, a range that kept food away from the fire.
Manufactured in cast iron and heated by solid fuel, the Kitchener could be used to boil, roast, bake and warm - all from the same heat source. It was hailed as one of the greatest domestic institutions of the 19th century.
In 1844 his son Sidney inherited the family business, including the iron foundry and factory in south Leamington and in 1851 exhibited the Kitchener at the Great Exhibition, opening London showrooms in Welbeck Street.
The stove was ordered for royal palaces, stately homes, military and naval establishments, prisons and premises of every sort. Some were shipped to Australia and the Flavel company became the largest employer in Leamington for much of the 19th century.
Sidney’s son, Sidney Flavel Junior, followed his father as chairman of Flavels and became influential in Leamington life.
Sidney Flavel Junior served six terms as Mayor of Leamington. He chaired the local magistrates and was a founder member of Warwickshire County Council. He was instrumental in securing an 18 hole golf course for Leamington and persuaded the Post Office authorities to add the word Spa to the name of the town.
In 1884, during his mayoralty, the new Town Hall was completed for which he presented a stained glass window in the council chamber.
He died in 1931 and is buried in the family vault in Leamington Cemetery.
Leamington historian Alan Griffin, in his book Leamington Lives Remembered, describes him as “a Leamingtonian par excellence whose like will not be seen again.”
Flavels became Rangemaster, who are now the market leaders in range cookers and are part of the AGA Rangemaster Group plc.
In 2002 the Leamington site was transformed into a centre of excellence for range cooking. A £3 million investment programme saw the factory modernised .