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Letter from Charles Bage to William Strutt, 1806/10/16

Dear Sir

Being impatient to eat under your system of cookery. I cannot resist the desire of troubling you again. I wish W Bamford could be stimulated to send me the ovens, their grate, door and register – or if that cannot be accomplished it would be very useful to me to know what exact size the ovens will be in every direction; because I could proceed with certain brick work. They were to be the size of your Brother’s small double oven. My cook to whom I have endeavoured to explain some of the mysteries of the new sect, though not altogether an unbeliever, yet asks one a number of impertinent questions – the more impertinent as I have not my answers at hand. For instances How and where am I to cook a beef steak? – Am I to light a fire in the stew hearth merely to boil the water for breakfast, or afternoon’s tea? – Where am I to heat the heater for the Tea Urn? And if you make me such a pitiful fire place, where are the coals to be had for warming lids? –

Without your assistance I never shall be able to manage this skeptical cook. –

But I must request your opinion on another subject. As in bleaching we use a great deal of dye, we find it out interest to recover the ashes; which we do by evaporating it in open shallow pans to the consistency of syrup and then burning or melting it in a furnace. The evaporation costs a considerable deal of coals. Does it occur to you that any particular form of the fireplace or flues would answer better than the common way, which is mainly making a fire at one end, and taking off the smoke at the other? – Would the evaporation be carried on quicker in a close vessel, having a steam vent merely? – It seems to me that the external air playing over the surface, probably retards evaporation. We make use of a boiler for boiling yarn, large enough to hold 5 or 6 cuts; and hitherto have made the bottom of Iron and the sides of lead. This being very expensive would not Cast Iron be preferable? yet I am told this is very apt to crack. – Having plagued you with all the questions that at present occur to me I have only to add how gratefully I feel myself

Dear Sir

your obliged servant

Chas Bage

Shrewsbury

Oct 16 1806