J. C. Bamford

J. C. Bamford
J C Bamford Excavators Limited
Type Private
Industry Heavy equipment
Founded 1945
Headquarters Rocester, United Kingdom
Key people Sir Anthony Bamford, Chairman
Products Construction, Demolition & Agriculture Machinery
Revenue £1.35 billion (2009)[1]
Employees Approximately 7,000[2]
Website www.jcb.com

JCB (formally J C Bamford Excavators Limited)[3] is a global construction, demolition and agricultural equipment company headquartered in Rocester, United Kingdom. It is the world's third-largest construction equipment manufacturer.[1] It produces over 300 types of machines, including diggers ("Backhoes"), excavators, tractors and diesel engines. It has 18 factories across Asia, Europe, North America and South America and its products are sold in over 150 countries.[2][4]

It is a family-owned company and was founded in 1945 by J. C. Bamford, after whom it is named. In the UK "JCB" is often used colloquially as a generic description for mechanical diggers and excavators and now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, although it is still held as a trademark.[5]



JCB's first welding set
The first vehicle that JCB made (a farm trailer)

20th century

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: see image gallery.

In 1948 there were six people working for Bamford's company, and it made the first hydraulic tipping trailer in Europe. In 1950, he moved to an old cheese factory in Rocester, still employing six. Then, a year later, he began painting his products yellow. In 1953, the first backhoe loader was launched, and the JCB logo appeared for the first time. It was designed by Derby media and advertising designer Leslie Smith. In 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, which JCB grew with.[6]

In 1960, JCB's hydraulic tractors entered the North American market, proving a long lasting success. JCB became, and still is, the brand leader in the world. By 1964 JCB had sold over 3,000 3C backhoe loaders. The next year, the first 360 degree excavator was introduced, the JCB 7.[7]

In 1969, Joseph Bamford was awarded the CBE for Services to Export. In 1975 he retired.

In 1978, the Loadall machine was introduced. The next year, JCB started its operation in India. In 1991, the firm entered a joint venture with Sumitomo of Japan to produce excavators, which ended in 1998.[8] Two years later, a JCB factory was completed in Pooler near Savannah, Georgia in the USA, and the next year a factory was opened in Brazil.

21st century

In 2001, Joseph Cyril Bamford died aged 84. In his later life he was a tax exile.

Production of the first engine designed and manufactured by JCB, the JCB444 diesel engine, started in 2004.[9] In 2005, for the first time in nearly forty years, JCB bought a company, purchasing the German equipment firm Vibromax. In the same year, JCB opened a new factory in China at Pudong close to Shanghai, and by the next year, the firm had 4000 employees, twice what it had in 1975.

Planning of a new £40 million pound JCB Heavy Products site began in 2007,[10] and by the next year, the firm began to move from its old site in Pinfold Street in Uttoxeter to the new site beside the A50. The Pinfold Street site was demolished in 2009. During that year, JCB announced it was to make India its largest manufacturing hub. Its factory at Ballabgarh in Haryana, was to be become the world’s largest backhoe loader manufacturing facility.[11]

The firm shed 2,000 jobs during the recession, but in 2010 it announced it was recruiting up to 200 new workers.[12]


JCB factory and park at Rocester

JCB has 18 factories in the UK, Germany North and South America, India and China.[4] The company employs some 7,000 people on four continents and sells its products in 150 countries through 1500 dealer depot locations. The company has a range of more than 300 products.[13]

The firm is headquartered in Rocester, United Kingdom, which is also the production site for Backhoe Loaders and Telescopic 'Loadall' handlers. It has other factories in nearby Cheadle, Staffordshire, Rugeley, Uttoxeter, Foston in Derbyshire and Wrexham in North Wales.

Its Indian factories are based in Ballabgarh (Haryana) and Pune, its US factory is in Pooler, Georgia, its Brazilian factory in Sorocaba, and its Chinese factory was completed in 2005 in Pudong near Shanghai. JCB also owns Vibromax, a German compaction equipment company based in Gatersleben.

The company has also licensed its name and image to a line of consumer power tools, manufactured by Alba PLC.


Many of the vehicles produced by JCB are variants of the backhoe loader, including tracked or wheeled variants, mini and large versions and other variations for carrying and moving items, for example fork lift vehicles and telescopic handlers for moving materials to the upper floors of a building site. Wheeled loading shovels and articulated dump trucks are also produced.


Tracked 360° excavators ranging from the JZ70 (7 tonne zero tail swing excavator) to the JS460 (46 tonne tracked excavator). In 2008 at Con expo JCB revealed a new top range JS520 which included the new style paintjob with rams painted black (nadimwilson c). Wheeled 360° excavators ranging from the JS130W to the JS200W. Machines can be produced with either monoboom or a triple articulated boom.


JCB Fastrac 8250 tractor

JCB has also made its name in the tractor world by producing one of the first such machines that features proper suspension and is capable of travelling at speed on roads. The JCB Fastrac entered production in 1990. Prior to this design, the suspension was difficult because of the fixed-height connections required to farm machinery, and tractors were notoriously slow on the roads. Dependent on the model the Fastrac can travel at 50 km/h, 65 km/h or 75 km/h (40 mph). The machine was featured on the BBC television programme Tomorrow's World when it first appeared due to its innovative design.

From 2006 the company also produces a range of compact tractors designed for grounds-care, horticultural, and light agricultural duties.

Military vehicles

JCB also makes a range of military vehicles, which also concentrate on load-handling and excavation.[14] These include the JCB HMEE.

JCB Dieselmax

In April 2006, JCB announced that they were developing a Diesel-powered Land Speed Record vehicle known as the 'JCB Dieselmax'. The car is powered by two specially modified JCB 444 diesel powerplants that use a two-stage turbocharger to generate 750 bhp, one engine driving the front wheels and the other the rear wheels.

On August 22, 2006 the Dieselmax, driven by Andy Green broke the diesel engine land speed record, attaining a speed of 328.767 mph (529 km/h). The following day, the record was again broken, this time with a speed of 350.092 mph (563.418 km/h).


In Russian-language text on JCB's Russian website, their name and tradenames of their products are in the Roman alphabet.

The JCB logo dates from 1953; from 1960 the company typewriters were given an extra key to render it accurately. The company has mainly advertised in the trade publications and their advertisements have won many awards, particularly for photography. The logo was designed by Leslie Smith, and is off-set at 18 degrees from the horizontal and 22 degrees from the vertical because that is the angle which Sir Anthony Bamford liked it.

Display team

To demonstrate his faith in the hydraulic failsafes on JCB machines (which lock the arms in the event of a loss of hydraulic pressure, preventing them from crashing to the ground), Joe Cyril Bamford arranged to have several backhoes raise themselves up on their arms, and drove his car beneath them.

This has since developed into a world famous demonstration of the versatility of the backhoe configuration. The JCB display team (JCB Dancing Diggers) tour agricultural shows and produce videos, showing some of the unusual ways in which such vehicles can support themselves or manoeuvre. For example, it is quite common for drivers to support the vehicle on both buckets, either for turning on the spot without damaging ground, or for spinning the tracks in a puddle to clean them. The display team expanded this concept into a sort of vehicle gymnastics. The drivers are members of JCB's demonstration team, who visit prospective customers and demonstrate machines on the customer's property in order to prove the machine's suitability for the task at hand.

JCB Academy

JCB is the sponsor of JCB Academy, a new secondary school in Rocester which had its first intake of pupils in September 2010.[15]

In popular culture

  • JCB is gaining international notoriety of sorts after being prominently featured in the song "JCB" by the music group Nizlopi, which has achieved UK Number One status. The song is about a boy who goes to work with his father for the day.
  • The Lego Technic range featured a scale-model of the JCB backhoe (Set 8862), complete with working hydraulics systems (simulated using pneumatics) and many other features of the original.
  • In series 9 of Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson bought a JCB Fastrac 8250 for a challenge involving "growing your own petrol". Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond all had to reverse their vehicles around the Top Gear car park.


  1. ^ a b "JCB reaps reward for 'tough action' as profits show a rise". Yorkshire Post. 15 July 2010. http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/businessnews/JCB-reaps-reward-for-39tough.6422560.jp. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Company Information". J C Bamford Excavators Limited. http://www.jcb.com/aboutjcb/welcome.aspx. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  3. ^ The name was changed from J.C. Bamford (Excavators) Limited in 1967
  4. ^ a b "A Global Manufacturer". J C Bamford Excavators Limited. http://www.jcb.com/aboutjcb/globalmanufacturer.aspx. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (2007-04-20). "Classics of everyday design No 16". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/artblog/2007/apr/20/everydaydesignclassicsno16. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Phillips, David (2001-03-05). "Obituary: Joseph Bamford | News". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,446404,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  7. ^ www.jcb.com
  8. ^ Diesel Progress, North American edition - October 1998
  9. ^ JCB.COM news on JCB 444 engine[dead link]
  10. ^ The Uttoxeter Sentinel
  11. ^ "Economic Times April 3, 2009". Economictimes.indiatimes.com. 2009-04-03. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4356043.cms. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  12. ^ "Staffordshire-based JCB creates hundreds of new jobs". BBC. 2010-0-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8621174.stm. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  13. ^ "Company Information". JCB. http://www.jcb.co.uk/aboutjcb/welcome.aspx. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  14. ^ "BATTLESPACE - In this issue". http://www.battle-technology.com/this_issue04i.html. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  15. ^ JCB Academy website

External links

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