Production Begins

Initially the new company was in temporary accommodation, possibly in one of Messenger’s own workshops. Within the year, they were in production and receiving very favourable reviews in the specialist magazines.

 

The Electrical Review, 3 March 1916

The 3rd March 1916 edition of the Electrical Review ran such a review, of an electrical fire, that ran to almost a full column. The article described the new electrical fire as follows:

The “Arora” fires, one of which is illustrated herewith, are fitted with an element built of an extra-heavy section of wire, which under ordinary circumstances would not glow, but owing to the patented form of construction, a pleasing glow is obtained at quite a low current density, and a maximum of radiant heat is produced. Elements of the most non-oxidisable metal have in the past oxidised sufficiently to reduce the consumption materially and consequently the heat produced. With the Arora heavy elements, this defect is reduced to a minimum. The elements are mounted on fire clay of exceptional strength. The frame-work is of cast iron throughout, in two main parts, the fire box and the front. The former is a complete unit forming a standard part, which is interchangeable with any front of the three finishes listed. It contains two 750- watt bars, two switches, and two heavy terminals complete with two yards of 70/36 S.W.G.[1] flexible cord, and is attached to the front frames by means of two bolts only. The fire bars are also interchangeable, and may be obtained at a very low cost. The solid frame- work and parts are practically indestructible, and may at any time be made equal to new stock for a few shillings. The total weight of the fire is 19 lb.

The article continues in describing that in the middle of January, 1916, the company released the first three models, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, of their new fire. Within the first month it had been sold to over 4o corporations[2], “with many repeat orders for large volumes”. They had also apparently received “strong approval has been expressed with regard to the particularly pleasing high-temperature effect and the remarkably low prices”.

 

Supplement to the Electrician, Vol 77, 21 July 1916

The firm were in the process of introducing a range of larger modes, to be numbered 11, 12 and 13. These were three inches taller and incorporated three bars instead of two. The article also stated that the firm was in the process of launching a boiler plate “to meet the demands of the public and many central-station engineers for a quick, reliable boiler at low price”. This is presumably the realisation of the patent application that Frederick Grogan and Eric Burder had submitted several months earlier.

 

The Electrican Supplement, 16 March 1917

The article concluded by paying the following tribute to Frederick Grogan:

Mr Grogan’s many friends will be glad to hear of his new venture, and will join with us in wishing him success; few men have done more than he to develop the employment of electricity for cocking, and we believe he is working on the right lines radiant heat and low prices.

 

The Electrical Review, 21 July 1916

By July, the enlarged fire, with three bars was already in production and the firm had just launched another three product lines[3]. One described as a neat cast-iron hearth stand, was no doubt cast in Messenger’s foundry. The other two received longer write-ups, accompanied with illustrations:

The Arora Co., of Loughborough, is placing on the market a new electric grill, designed to meet the pressing need for rapid grilling and toasting: as shown in fig, 3. it is made of cast-iron, with an aluminium finish. The heating elements are formed of an extra heavy section of wire, and are mounted on the underside of strong fireclay bars; thus the heat is thrown downwards, and owing to the high radiation of the elements and the fireclay, the grill is ready for use directly the current is switched on. The power consumption is about 1.100 watts, and the operation of grilling takes from five to ten minutes, according to the thickness of the steak or chop. The electrical part of the grill can be lifted off so that the rest of the device can be thoroughly washed with-out risk of damaging the elements: the detachable part can also be used separately as a “salamander.”

Another new device is a three-section electric boiling plate, for rapid boiling, shown in fig. 4. This has a cast-iron frame, so designed that it will not crack with the heat, which supports a heavy fireclay disk retainer; three sector-shaped heating elements are supported on the disk, each being held in place by two wing nuts, so that any sector can be replaced without interfering with the others. The full-load consumption is 1.500 watts by means of two switches, one-third and two-thirds of the full heat can also be obtained, and the interlocking slide seen at the front adds a further control, giving one-ninth of the full heat, which is useful for simmering purposes. Heavy flexible cable armoured for 18 in. is provided, as well as an earthing wire. The cooking surface measures 14 in. x 12 in., and the grill has an opening 8in. in diameter.

 

The Electrical Review, 6 Sept 1918

The list price of the grill was £1 5s. 0d, whilst the hot plate was £2 17s. 6d.[4]

The firm displayed their range of cookers at the National Economy Exhibition, held at the People’s Palace, Mile End, London, from September 18th to 30th inclusive[5].

Despite finding it difficult to obtain either suppliers or labour, the firm managed to increase sales of their fires and even managed to double their output from the previous year[6]. In addition to their normal product range, they also undertook bespoke installations. One example was a special fire, installed in the Mayor’s parlour at Salford Town Hall. The installation involved making a special frame to match the existing fire place, of antique brass and tiles. The fire itself totalled a massive 7.5 K.W., comprising of ten 750-watt heating elements, arranged in two columns of five bars. Each column was operated by separate a 220 volt circuits, across the three-wire circuit, controlled by two external switches.

In the summer of 1918 the firm joined The British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association. By this time, the original temporary assembly shop had already expanded to around five times the original floor space and the firm anticipated output trebling within the year[7]. They also released two additional fires to their product line. The first was a small 1-bar fire, suitable for small rooms and kitchens, known as a No. 10; it had a single 750-watt element, measured 10¾in. x 4½in. x 3in. and weighed 7lbs. The second, a large 4 K.W., was similar in design to previous models. It stood 23½in. high and weighed 35lbs. Instead of the standard 750-watt element it had four 1 K.W. elements, controlled by three 10-amp., switches. Both fires used cast frames, manufactured in Messenger’s foundry. In the case of the small fire this was comprised of two strong castings, with the large having an interchangeable firebox, available in different finishes[8].

 

The Electrical Review, 21 Sept 1917

In late 1918, Benetfink’s a retail outlet of No 107, Cheapside, London, were advertising two versions of “The Arora” electric fire[9]. The first measuring 16in. high, 21in. wide, 7in. deep and weighing 18lb., was priced at £2 15s. 0d. for the 200-250-volt model. The second was the three-bar model, measuring 19in. high, 21in. wide, 7in. deep and weighing 23lb., was priced at £3 10s. 0d. Both models had 750 watt bars, capable of being operated independently and those requiring 100-125 volt models were required to pay a premium of between 2s. 6d. and 5s.

 

References:

  1. S.W.G. stands for British Standard Wire Gauge, used for measuring the wire thickness.
  2. Presumably this refers to District, Borough and County Councils, rather than business corporations.
  3. The Electrical Review, Volume 79, 21st July, 1916.
  4. Supplement to the Electrician, Volume 77, 21st July, 1916.
  5. Supplement to the Electrician, Volume 77, 6th October, 1916.
  6. The Electrical Review, Volume 80, 21st September, 1917.
  7. The Electrical Review, Volume 83, 6th September, 1918.
  8. Ibid.
  9. The Times, 20th November, 1918.