John Haws started to design watering cans in the 1880s with the intention of solving the problems that he encountered with the cans he is using while tending to his own garden. He did not let aesthetics dictate the form of the cans he created. Instead, he followed the path of functionality. Hence, the Haws watering can became a name of unmatched quality. True to this day, Haws watering cans are still made using the same methods that Haws used all those years ago; making it the much sought-after brand of watering cans.
In life, there are some things you just need to have. Something that performs the way it should perform and looks right. When it comes to watering cans, that “something” that you just need to have is the Haws watering can. It may just be a watering can but it is “something”. It is perfect in all aspects: functional, stylish, beautiful, and durable. In fact, many gardeners who experienced using it refuse to use any other watering can. They have even been chosen by certain Australian garden celebrities.
But what makes a Haws watering can a Haws watering can? In this present day, the can is manufactured in a small factory in Smethwick in the West Midlands but it all started in Mauritius. It was the time when John Haws wanted to beat the new French ‘water pots’. While the French idea seemed practical, it failed it a number of ways. The French ‘water pots” have handles attached from the back of the body to the top of the watering can up to the spout. This allowed for lifting the can with two hands. But John Haws was not satisfied since the French cans were not balanced, difficult to use and created backaches. It also feels very awkward to carry with both hands but Haws had to endure since there was nothing else to use.
When he retired and came back to England, it was the height of professional gardening in England’s prime estates. He lived in Lea Valley in East London and nurseries and private gardeners were thriving. With nothing to busy himself with and despite the lack of any formal engineering experience, Haws started constructing a can that will cater to his demands. He came up with a can that does not make your back ache, does not soak your feet, and does not wash out the plants. This was later patented in 1886 to become the Haws brand that we know. The design was perfected over the course of a few years. Until then, the design remains the same and has not been surpassed by any other.
Instead of selling the patent to a company, Haws made the wise decision of starting his own company which sells the watering cans. While ownership of the company has changed a few times since it was established, the Haws Watering Cans are still made using the same methods that it was originally designed. In fact, the only thing that has changed about the cans is the size. A heavy 3-gallon can was brought down to 2 gallons to meet the requirements of the modern gardener.
The Anatomy of Haws Watering Cans
The Haws cans are made up of three parts: the base, the handle, the spout and the spout support. These parts are made of thin mild steel. One distinct characteristic of the Haws can is its handle. It has a breast (the lid of the watering can) and a neck to support the back and spout handle. This is the Professional line of Haws cans. The neck, up until now, is produced how like how Haws originally made it, which is through manual rollers which is similar to a plumber’s pipe bender. The parts are attached together using interlocking flanges with the edges being bent so it won’t hook together. It is then welded manually. No sophisticated machines are used in the creation of the cans. Everything is manually done to sheer perfection.
The next method in the production of the Professional line may seem a bit strange. The cans are intentionally left outside to rust. Why you ask? According to John Massey, director of Haws Watering Cans, the cans are galvanized by diluting it in molten zinc, which is currently the best known method of weatherproofing steel, and incidentally, zinc is better absorbed if the surface is rusted. After the zinc treatment, the cans come out looking good as new. Still, the cans need to be polished and painted. Finally, the brass Haws medallion is applied to mark that these watering cans are the best watering cans in the world.