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Max Gort-Barten the founder of Dualit was born in Germany in 1914. Max's father was also an inventor and the family produced acetate wallets in a factory behind their house. Max found himself in England as WWII broke out. After 5 years in the army, he bought a factory in Camberwell with the intention of manufacturing one of his many inventions. His first successful product was the flip-sided toaster, patented in 1946.
The Dual-light electric fire from which the name Dualit came from.
Early designs included a stainless steel fire screen...
...and a cocktail shaker and mixer for custards and puddings.
The first Dualit toaster was designed in 1946.
By the late '40s all toasters were made in cast aluminium and stainless steel.
In 1952 Max designed a new commercial six-slot toaster with a mechanical timer and manual eject lever to keep the toast warm until needed. Residents of Picton Street and the entire Gort-Barten family were involved in its production. In 1954 the Government compulsory-purchased the factory and gave Max money to build a new factory on the Old Kent Road.
A new six-slot toaster was introduced in 1952.
The Dualit workforce in the early '50s.
A new factory was purchased off the Old Kent Road, London.
An early 2 slice toaster in utility cream.
The design and engineering of the toaster gradually evolved and in 1964 a waffle iron was added to the range. The Dualit toaster became a ubiquitous part of commercial kitchens all over the UK, even making it on-board the QE2.
The commercial range of toasters was growing.
An early Dualit logo.
New products were added including a waffle iron.
Dualit toasters were even used aboard the QE2.
Dualit toasters started to appear in John Lewis, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. A three-slot version was made specifically for John Lewis. In 1974 Max stepped down as Managing Director and Leslie joined the business. By the late '70s Dualit had employed a Royal College of Art design graduate and the toaster's enhanced styling subsequently gave it a bigger presence in retail outlets.
Dualit toasters became popular in the home.
But catering products still remained key to the business.
Government export grants encouraged Dualit to attend European trade shows. Demand from foreign distributors, coupled with the '80s trend for commercial kitchen appliances, saw demand quadruple overnight and the factory was extended to increase capacity. In 1989 Max was awarded the CBE for services to the British manufacturing industry.
New sizes and colours were introduced.
Max was awardred CBE for services to the British manufacturing industry
Accessories were added to the collection.
A true Dualit fan....
Dualit launched its first cordless kettle that used a 360° swivel base. New products were sourced, tested, re-engineered and re-housed, Dualit style. In 1999 Max and Leslie exploited Space Shuttle technology to develop the Proheat element. It won the company a Millennium award.
The classic Dualit toaster as we now know it.
New domestic products were launched.
Anyone for coffee?
The award winning Proheat toaster element.
In 2003, the same year that Max Gort-Barten died, the company outgrew its original home in the Old Kent Road and moved to new premises in Crawley, West Sussex. The launch of new countertop products continued in the 00s: with the Lite toasters, DAB radios (2006 & 2008), range of food prep appliances (2005 & 2007), Espressivo coffee machine (2008), and most recently the NewGen toaster (2009).
New products and new colours.
Radios joined the collection in 2006.
Mixers, blenders and a mini chopper were also introduced.
Catering and consumer markets will continue to be equally important, with the company's reputation amongst professional chefs one of the main reasons why consumers choose Dualit. There will be a constant cycle of new product development, but ideas will only see the light of day if they can demonstrate true Dualit brand values – no frills, no gimmicks, just innovative, well-engineered solutions.
The next generation of toaster is here.....