Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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J. C. Bamford Excavators (JCB)

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1967. JCB 2B Loader / Excavator. Reg No: BE 184E.

The JCB Co of Uttoxeter and later Rocester

1945 The company was founded by Joseph Cyril Bamford in October 1945 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, England. He rented a lock-up garage 12 feet by 15 feet. In it, using a welding set which he bought second-hand for £1 from English Electric, he made his first vehicle, a tipping trailer from war-surplus materials. The trailer's sides and floor were made from steel sheet that had been part of air-raid shelters.

On the same day as his son Anthony was born he sold the trailer at a nearby market for £45 (plus a part-exchanged farm cart) and at once made another trailer.

At one time he made vehicles in Eckersley's coal yard in Uttoxeter. The first trailer and the welding set have been preserved.

c.1947 Moved to larger premises and began making tipping trailers for commercial vehicles

1948 there were six people working for Bamford's company

1948 Addressed the agricultural market with a two-wheeled hydraulic tipping trailer, designed to be bolted on to a Ford tractor; several thousand versions of this machine, the Major Loader, were sold in the UK and continental Europe.

1948 a hydraulic arm called the Si-draulic was developed for tractors; this became very successful.

1950 Bamford moved the business to an old cheese factory in Rocester, still employing six. Then, a year later, he began painting his products yellow.

1953 the first backhoe loader was launched. The JCB logo appeared for the first time - it had been designed by Leslie Smith, Derby media and advertising designer.

1956 J. C. Bamford Excavators Ltd was incorporated.

1957 the firm launched the "hydra-digga", incorporating the excavator and the major loader as a single all-purpose tool which was useful for both the agricultural as well as construction industry. Through ingenious use of hydraulics, backed by a flair for marketing, Bamford established a position of leadership in that segment which was never seriously challenged, even by overseas manufacturers with larger financial and engineering resources.

1961 Manufacturers of earth moving equipment. 300 employees. [1]

1961 Launch of the JCB Mark 3, which was a huge success. Following this Bamford sought to broaden the JCB range to include three other equipment types which could be sold in relatively high volume: crawler excavators, wheeled loaders, and crawler loaders. Exports accounted for well over half Rocester's output.

By 1964 JCB had sold over 3,000 3C backhoe loaders. The next year, the first 360 degree excavator was introduced, the JCB 7.

1967 Acquired Chaseside Engineering Co, a British manufacturer of wheeled, loading shovels. Production of these machines was soon transferred to Rocester.

1968 New range of hydraulic excavators launched. Full details in The Engineer. Listed as J. C. Bamford Excavators

1968 Bamfords rejected take-over proposal from "rival family firm" J. C. Bamford (Excavators)[2]

1969 Joseph Bamford was awarded the CBE for Services to Export.

1974 60% of production was being exported during the period of the industrial crisis as the company was concentrating on fewer models.[3]

1975 Joseph retired. His son, Anthony, took over the management of the business.

1991 JCB produced a tractor named the Fastrac. This featured a gearbox with a top speed of 45mph, four-wheel drive through equal diameter wheels, four wheel braking and a suspension system over both the front and rear axles. Because of the high speed it can reach the Fastrac is classed as a 'fast tractor' and must feature four-wheel braking and a front and rear suspension as a legal requirement. The rear suspension is hydro-pneumatic which gives a self-levelling action thus assistint the Fastrac in working with draught implements as well as reaching high speeds for transport work.

Joseph Cyril Bamford died in March 2001.

The company now manufactures 186 different machines in factories worldwide including the Fastrac tractor.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  2. The Times, Feb 01, 1968
  3. The Engineer 1974/03/07
  • From 1890 to the Present Day Farm Tractors by Michael Williams published in 2005 by Silverdale Books ISBN 978-1-84509-251-1
  • The Complete Encylopedia of Tractors by Mirco de Cet published in 2006 by Rebo International ISBN 978-90-366-1893-9
  • The Engineer of 8th March 1968 p400
  • [1] Wikipedia