Fenland Ironworks Special Henley Gazebo and Pergolas go to the Barakura English Garden in Japan

Henley gazebo and Traditional rose tunnels at the Bakura English Garden Tokyo

Special Henley Gazebo and Traditional Rose Tunnels at the Bakura English Garden

Last year we were approached by a Japanese garden writer working in the UK, to supply a gazebo and rose tunnels (pergolas) for a garden in Tokyo. Our furthest reach until then was supplying British customers with garden items for use at their properties in France.

We at Fenland Ironworks Ltd, have had enquiries from the states but transport costs have always been prohibitive, fortunately the Japanese customers could arrange their own transport.

The biggest worry I had was ensuring that we understood fully the customers’ requirements and that they understood what it was we were offering (the items were non standard). The sequence would be an email to the garden writer who was translating our email into Japanese, receiving a reply in Japanese, which she then translated into English for us.

After a fair bit of correspondence I asked a question I should have asked earlier, where in England was the lady based, pretty close to us as it turned out. We agreed a price made the items, assembled some of them, the lady came over one Saturday morning photographed the items in bare metal (including the famous Fenland Ironworks gazebo test process). She then emailed the photos back to Japan we were paid, then had the items galvanised , powder coated and they were collected for the boat trip to Japan.

We have since sent items into France and Italy. Last week we had a follow up order from the customer in Japan who very kindly sent us photographs of the Traditional Rose tunnels and Special Henley gazebo installed at the Barakura English Garden.

It would seem the internet has allowed us the showcase we need for people to see what it is we offer and from further a field that we would have thought possible, only a few years back.


Garden arches built to last (here’s one we made earlier)

When travelling to work most days a week I pass two of our standard scrolled arches in a front garden close to the road. They have been there for at least sixteen years.

Last week I had been out delivering and was passing that particular house on the way back to the workshop, the lady of the house was in the garden watering some of her plants.

I stopped the van and introduced myself, asked if I could photograph the arches and put the pictures on our gardening website. We discussed the arches, which had been put in the ground after delivery and not touched since. They thought as I did they had been in their garden at least sixteen years and they are still going strong.

Standard scrolled arch

Here is an arch we made a lot earlier

Wind powered drainage in the fens


I have lived and worked near, in and around the fens all my life. The battle to reclaim the land from the waters has had a fascination for me ever since I have known about it. In reality to describe it as a battle is to diminish what has really been a war, at times the waters have taken back with ease, that which was won with much hard physical work.

The most honest evaluation is probably that which has been taken is held; mammoth and innovative engineering maintain the status quo.

I have in my lounge a reproduction of a 1645 map of Huntingdonshire, with the Isle of Ely and part of Cambridgeshire. A good portion of Huntingdonshire and  the Isle of Ely are shown as under water with a few towns and villages as islands within the waters, I have another map of about a similar age titled Inumdatum which gives an indication of the extent of the waters.

The drainage of the fens has been achieved over many centuries the long straight waterways (drains), dug mainly by hand. A truly spectacular sight to me is to drive along a road with the river above me on one side above the height of the van and ten twenty feet or more below me on the other side are the fields with crops growing in them.

Hundred Foot Bank, Sutton, Cambs  The B1381 road to Earith runs below the New Bedford River level.© Copyright Rodney Burton


The photograph shows in an instant the monumental achievement in reclamation of land from the water the land below the road has to be drained by emptying it into a river or drain above it rather than below it. When you realise a cubic metre of water weighs a tonne the colossal scale of the feat becomes more apparent. Every drop of water in that and many drains and rivers in the fens that has been run off from the fields, has to be physically lifted considerable heights to keep the ground dry and usable.

To start with wind was used to power pumps and giant scoop wheels to lift the water then steam, diesel and now electric pumps do the work. With the appearance of wind turbines in the fens, ultimately they are now to a degree being drained again by wind power.

Hello world!

I am using this blog to publish my thoughts on gardening and articles from friends of mine who are specialists within the garden and landscaping industry.

Our company Fenland ironworks Ltd has been supplying the garden and landscaping trade with quality iron products for close on a quarter of a century. Our first garden product was a scrolled rose or garden arch, we added a few more arches after that then, bowers, gazebos, obelisks and pergolas. We normally add about two or three new products to our range in a year, this year has seen a new Traditional obelisk and a Henley loveseat added.

Sales from the internet are generated by our seriousgardener.co.uk website, which is becoming very popular. We regularly contribute to the Landscape Juice Network and the Garden Network both excellent networking sites for those involved in gardens and horticulture.