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15 July

365 great things about Staffordshire - JCB

From the dreams and sheer drive of Joseph Cyril Bamford, JCB has grown from a small garage business into the world’s biggest privately-owned construction equipment company.

In fact the word JCB is so often used around the world as a generic description for mechanical diggers and excavators that it now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, although it is still held as a trademark.

In every corner of the world you'll find a JCB machine. JCB is one of the world's top three manufacturers of construction equipment, and began here in Staffordshire, where its world Headquarters are still located.

Founding JCB

JCB was founded in October 1945 by Joseph Cyril Bamford, (after whom it is named) in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire from a lock-up garage 3.7 by 4.6 m (12 by 15 ft). In it, using a welding set which he bought second-hand he made his first vehicle, a tipping trailer. And JCB was born. 

By the late 1940s, six people were working for the company, and it made the first hydraulic tipping trailer in Europe. In 1950, and needing larger premises, JCB moved to an old empty cheese factory in Rocester, Staffordshire - spotted Bill Hirst, JCB’s first apprentice - which grows to become JCB World Headquarters, occupying over 175 acres.

A year later, Joseph began painting his products yellow!

In 1953, Mr Bamford invents the world’s first backhoe loader, the MK I Excavator. Joseph Bamford’s revolutionary design brings hydraulic power to construction and shapes the industry’s future. The JCB logo also appears for the first time.

In 1962, Joseph Bamford originates the much-loved tradition of JCB stunts. The first is the ‘up and over’, in which a JCB 4 lifts itself up on its two hydraulic arms to form a bridge, while the company Cadillac drives underneath.

The stunts show off the power, performance and versatility of JCB machines, evolving into the JCB Dancing Diggers shows, famous throughout the world.

By 1969, JCB exports over half the machines it manufactures. In recognition of Joseph Bamford’s business success, JCB receives its first Queen’s Award to Industry for Export Achievement. Fittingly, that same year, Joseph Bamford receives the CBE for his services to exports.

By 2016,  JCB has won a total of 30 Queen’s Awards since 1969, making the company the UK record holder of this honourable business accolade.

During the seventies, JCB continued to create revolutionary new construction vehicles, including the Loadall range, which remains today one of JCB’s most successful product lines.

In the Eighties JCB invests £24 million in a new generation backhoe, which would become the best-ever selling backhoe. In the same year, JCB’s 100,000th backhoe rolls off the production line.

They also unveiled their most unusual backhoe loader. The JCB GT was powered by a Chevrolet V8 and capable of reaching 160kph (100mph). It wowed the crowds at the British Grand Prix in the year 1988.

JCB continued to innovate in the Nineties. Bamford’s innovation for a high speed tractor which broke from 40 years of tractor design revolutionised the agricultural industry, enabling higher productivity.

In 2004, JCB celebrated the production of 500,000th JCB machine.

To continue to support the companies growth, In 2008, JCB Heavy Products opened a brand new, £40-million factory just outside Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, enabling JCB to increase its share of a rapidly expanding market. The 41,800 sq m (450,000 sq ft) factory builds JCB machines ranging from 7 to 46 tonnes.
In 2014, and parked in the impressive JCB World HQ stands an engineering landmark. It is JCB’s one millionth machine.

In 2017 JCB won a $142 million contract for the United States Army, securing one of the largest single orders since Joseph Bamford started the business.
In 2018 JCB makes company history again, with the unveiling of its first ever electric excavator - the quietest digger in its range and one delivering zero emissions. The brand new JCB 19C-1 E-TEC mini excavator has been developed in top secret at JCB’s World HQ in Staffordshire.

There is so much more to say about JCB, and its impact and domination of the construction and excavation vehicle industry, including it's #apprenticeship scheme, its JCB academy school, and its contribution to industry and community.

Today you can even take Factory tours of the JCB World Headquarters in Staffordshire.

More about JCB, its history and the factory tours can be viewed on the  JCB website



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