Cook­ing on my £ 1 Ray­burn

Rosey Nor­ton

Evergreen - - Contents - ROSEY NOR­TON

Sev­eral years ago I was brows­ing a well- known in­ter­net auc­tion site that my mum had got me into. Look­ing through some of my dream ac­qui­si­tions, I saw a pic­ture of a re­ally sad- look­ing Ray­burn cooker. The blurred pic­ture showed it brown with rust, no doors, and it was ad­ver­tised as in need of com­plete restora­tion. From the pic­tures that was an un­der­state­ment, but it was for sale at 99 pence.

My hus­band, Jeff, and I care­fully added up the po­ten­tial cost of restor­ing it and de­cided it was worth bid­ding up to £ 50. We had seen many oth­ers go at five times that amount, so our hopes were not high as we sat with only 10 min­utes to go hardly be­liev­ing it was still at 99 pence. How­ever, Mum, who was also watch­ing the on­line bid­ding at her house, had warned us that in the last few sec­onds prices dra­mat­i­cally rise. Four sec­onds, three, two, gone!

We were now the proud own­ers of a di­lap­i­dated Ray­burn from only a few miles down the road. The fol­low­ing week­end, with my brother to help us, we all turned up to see the hor­ror we had bought. There “she” stood in the garage with chips on the front and on the top, but the doors were all in­tact. We looked at each other know­ing it was in far bet­ter con­di­tion than we could have hoped. We were warned that the ash wheel etc. were bro­ken, but all were re­place­able so we went home happy.

Jeff got to work tak­ing her apart; the ash wheel was cleaned with a wire brush and the sides stripped to bare metal, re­paired and re­painted. The boiler was in good con­di­tion so it was painted to en­sure it did not rust. The lid was bro­ken, but Jeff’s skills en­abled him to braze it and I mixed some match­ing paint, filled and painted it so it did not show. In the sum­mer we pur­chased a new top for £ 10. By now the cost was run­ning away with us, the Ray­burn had cost £ 20 in­clud­ing paint, filler, rock wool and the lid!

The chim­ney open­ing was far too small, so Jeff spent a few weeks open­ing it up, putting in new sup­ports and re­pair­ing the brick­work. I painted the bricks and then it was time to bring her down, put her in pride of place and pol­ish her. We held our breath ready­ing our­selves to light this big beast know­ing how tem­per­a­men­tal they are. We de­cided that al­though the Ray­burn was solid fuel it must run on wood as we had a free sup­ply and it was a sus­tain­able fuel. The Ray­burn was lit and we saw the old beast coaxed back into life after years of slum­ber.

The warmth soon oozed gently from the doors and there was no sign of any smoke, so there were no leaks. We watched the oven gauge rise to over 500° F ( the Ray­burn is a 1958 model and the ther­modial is still in Fahren­heit). Ea­ger to prac­tise, we put an ap­ple pie in, made some cus­tard on the top, the ket­tle steamed away and, within a cou­ple of hours, we sat down to a cup of tea with ap­ple pie and cus­tard. It may be me, but that was one of the best cups of tea I had ever tasted!

The same night as it was lit, we sat down to a meal cooked en­tirely on the Ray­burn and went to bed know­ing the clothes were dry­ing next to it, all for free; a sat­is­fy­ing smug feel­ing! We also en­joyed cen­tral heat­ing for the first time in our 300- year- old cot­tage as the money we saved bought ra­di­a­tors to fit onto the Ray­burn al­low­ing warmth through­out the house en­tirely free from the wood we col­lected. We said good­bye to costly stor­age heaters. It ran so ef­fi­ciently, all that was left from a bas­ket of wood, used all day, was a small shov­el­ful, noth­ing was wasted.

One day, my daugh­ter Holly de­cided to make her own bread from scratch without my help. The pride on her face as she took out her very

first loaf of bread was a pic­ture that I will al­ways re­mem­ber.

My el­derly neigh­bour be­came a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to our house dur­ing win­ter as she did not heat her house. She of­ten sat at our ta­ble en­joy­ing the old kitchen’s warmth, now though she came laden with fruit, freshly picked from her gar­den along with ex­cess eggs from her hens. She would swap th­ese for some freshly made bread from the oven, home- made soup, cakes or lemon curd and also en­joyed a cup of tea made from the ket­tle, steam­ing hap­pily on the top.

Cook­ing be­came less of a chore and more of a game in our house as each one of us tried to get to the cooker first. Jeff got up in the morn­ing to throw a bit more wood on, put the ket­tle on and, at the in­sis­tence of my daugh­ter, put in his home- made rice pudding.

Life be­came fun again, as we saw how much power we could save, whose shirts were dried and ironed on the lid first and, best of all, we sat around the kitchen ta­ble in the evenings talk­ing, eat­ing and mak­ing Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions from the or­ange slices gently dried in the warm­ing oven. We all agreed it was £ 1 well spent!

The au­thor’s re­stored Ray­burn pur­chased for £ 1.

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