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JCB Celebrates 75 Years

Published on 03 November 2020

GLOBAL construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer, JCB, has celebrated its 75th anniversary by awarding an extra day’s leave to its global workforce of 12,000 people.

Lord Anthony Bamford paid tribute to the efforts of employees – past and present – who have contributed to the success of JCB.

“As we mark 75 years in business, I know that everything JCB has achieved is due to the hard work and commitment of everyone who works for JCB or has worked for JCB in the past,” he says. “I’d like to thank everyone for their support over the years and particularly in recent months while we were dealing with the challenging business situation.”

JCB was founded in a lock-up garage in Uttoxeter, UK on 23rd October 1945 by the late Joseph Cyril Bamford on the same day his son, Anthony, now Lord Bamford, was born.

The company’s first product was a hydraulic tipping trailer made out of war time scrap, which was sold for £45 at the town’s market. The buyer’s old cart was also taken in part exchange and Mr Bamford refurbished it and sold it for another £45, sealing his destiny as one of the 20th century’s most innovative and successful engineers.

Today, JCB manufactures more than 300 different machines, including the world’s first electric mini excavator.

By 1947 his company had expanded and moved a few miles down the road to a stable block at Crakemarsh Hall. By 1950, JCB moved again, this time to the site of a former cheese factory in Rocester.

1953 proved to be a pivotal year for new products when Mr Bamford invented the backhoe loader with the launch of the JCB Mk 1 excavator.

It was the first time a single machine had been produced with a hydraulic rear excavator and front-mounted shovel.

This ingenuity still bears fruit today: JCB has since manufactured more than 600,000 backhoes and they are now produced on three continents.

1953 was also the year that the famous JCB logo – recognised the world over – was first used on a machine and registered as a trademark five years later.

The JCB 3C backhoe, acknowledged as a design classic, was launched in 1963.

In 1964, JCB exported its first machine to the USA, a JCB 4C backhoe loader and by 1970 JCB had set up a base in Whitemarsh, Baltimore, to harness the huge growth opportunity North America offered.

Turnover doubled to £40 million between 1971 and 1973.

Joseph Bamford retired in 1975, handing over the reins to his 30-year-old son, heralding the start of a massive expansion in both product range and manufacturing capabilities.

It started in 1972 with the opening of JCB France.

In 1977, the wraps came off the Loadall telescopic handler, a machine which revolutionised the way materials were handled on construction sites and farms. The Loadall has gone on to be one of the most successful products in JCB’s history.

A year later another landmark was achieved: the construction of JCB’s second factory in the UK, JCB Transmissions in Wrexham.

The decision to start manufacturing in India in 1979 heralded a period of global expansion. Today, JCB operates factories in New Delhi, Pune and Jaipur and India is now JCB’s biggest market behind the UK.

Product innovation continued to be the lifeblood of the company and in 1985 the 3CX Sitemaster backhoe loader was launched and went on to be JCB’s biggest-ever selling backhoe. It’s also the year JCB celebrated the production of its 100,000th backhoe.

In 1988, the wraps came off the JCB GT, a backhoe capable of 160 km/h and a fantastic promotional tool which continues to draw the crowds wherever it appears around the world.

By 1990 JCB was expanding into new fields with the launch of the JCB Fastrac tractor, the world’s first genuine high-speed, full suspension tractor. It cost £12 million to develop and took the world of agriculture by storm.

Product development continued unabated with the launch of the 2CX backhoe loader in 1990, followed three years later by the even smaller 1CX.

In 1997, the innovative Teletruk forklift – which can lift and place loads over obstacles – was launched.

In 1998 JCB opened its second factory in Wrexham, Wales, and a year later opened JCB Earthmovers in Cheadle, Staffordshire.

In 2000 the first machines began rolling off the production line at JCB’s new North American headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.

Joseph Cyril Bamford, lauded by the Financial Times newspaper as a rare combination of ‘engineering genius and marketing flair’, died in 2001.

In 2004, JCB celebrated the production of its 500,000th machine, just shy of its 60th anniversary. Production of the next half million machines would take just nine years.

It was also the year that JCB took the bold step into engine production with the launch of the Dieselmax engine, manufactured at JCB Power Systems in Derbyshire.

In 2005 JCB opened its factory in Pudong, China.

Jo Bamford was appointed a Director of JCB in 2006, the third generation of the Bamford family to hold such a position. This year also saw JCB set a world record with the JCB Dieselmax streamliner car. Powered by two JCB Dieselmax engines, it reached speeds of 560 km/h on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA to attain the record of the world’s fastest diesel car, a title it still holds today.

 

JCB celebrated its heritage with the opening of the ‘Story of JCB’ in 2011, a permanent exhibition marking the growth of JCB and the Bamford family’s roots in industry.

These roots can be traced back almost 200 years when they started out as blacksmiths in Uttoxeter, before, in 1871, they founded agricultural machinery suppliers, Bamfords Ltd in the town.

Global manufacturing extended to Brazil in 2012 and British Prime Minister David Cameron officially opened the new £63 million facility in Sao Paulo state.

In 2013, hundreds of employees gathered outside the world HQ for a commemorative photograph marking the production of the one millionth JCB machine.

In 2015 JCB marked its 70th anniversary with a continued focus on product innovation as the wraps came off the brand new 3CX compact backhoe loader.

2016 was a year of milestones as the company celebrated the production of the 200,000th Loadall telescopic handler, cementing the company’s position as the world’s leading manufacturer of telescopic handlers. In this year JCB also marked the production on its 100,000th mini excavator and celebrated 25 years of production of the revolutionary Fastrac tractor. It was also the year when the new JCB Hydradig was launched to international acclaim.

2017 was also a momentous year on two fronts: the launch a new range of JCB powered access equipment after two years of secret development.

The company also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Loadall and the production of its 500,000th engine.

2018 was certainly a year for exciting product introductions with the unveiling of JCB’s first ever electric excavator leading the way.

By 2019 the new electric mini excavator was in full production at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffordshire, with the initial first 50 orders delivered to customers. It was also a year for records.

In June of that year, JCB set a Guinness World Record for the fastest tractor at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire. Called Fastrac One, the tractor reached a speed of 103.6 mph with motorbike racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin in the driver’s seat. JCB then embarked on an ambitious plan to break its own record and developed Fastrac Twohit an astonishing peak speed of 246 km/h.

In 2019 Chairman Lord Bamford officially opened a brand new £50 million headquarters for JCB Germany.

In March 2020, JCB marked the production of the 750,000th backhoe loader before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

When the company’s production lines fell silent in March, JCB turned its attention to helping those in need during the unprecedented times. In India and the UK, company chefs prepared more than 200,000 meals for those in need. A production line at the Staffordshire factory was re-purposed to produce prototypes of special housings for a new type of ventilator following a national call to action.

JCB also reopened its Innovation Centre at the World HQ in Rocester to enable employees to volunteer to make medical grade visors for NHS staff on the company’s 3D machines.

By the time production lines re-opened in June, JCB reinforced its lead in zero and low carbon technologies with the preview of the construction industry’s first hydrogen-powered excavator.

The 20-tonne 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has been undergoing rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds for more than 12 months. 

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