JCB celebrated a unique milestone earlier this month as its 750,000th backhoe loader rolled off the production line at its factory in Rocester, Staffordshire – the very location where the first JCB backhoe was manufactured almost 70 years ago.
According to JCB, it was in 1953 that company founder, the late Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE, conceived the idea of the JCB backhoe loader, which created a single machine combining a front shovel and rear excavator arm. In its first full year of production in 1954, just 35 of the machines were produced and it took more than 20 years for the first 50,000 to be made. JCB now manufactures backhoe loaders in the UK, India, Brazil and the USA.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching our first backhoe loaders being produced at Rocester and it’s incredible to think we have now manufactured 750,000. What’s even more incredible is that the backhoe remains one of the world’s most popular pieces of construction equipment almost seven decades after the first was produced. It really is testament to the versatility of the machine that its popularity continues to endure and will see it continue to prosper in the future.”
The 750,000th model is a Special Edition of JCB’s latest 3CX backhoe loader, bearing a unique livery and comprehensive specification.
JCB employee Phil Starbuck, 60, joined the company in 1975 as an apprentice straight from school. The longest serving employee in the backhoe loader business unit and a Backhoe Group Leader said: “I am very proud to be a part of this special production milestone. It is a marvellous achievement and to be part of it is fantastic.”
Shannon Ramczykowski, 22, assistant management accountant and the most recent recruit to JCB’s backhoe loader business, having joined less than a year ago, added: “It is an amazing achievement and I look forward to celebrating more such milestones in the future as I start out on my JCB career.”
JCB is the largest seller of backhoes in the world – and has been for 19 consecutive years. The company’s first backhoe was the Mark I. The product developed rapidly, with the launch of the Hyddra-Digga in 1956. Both these early machines came in blue and red livery and it was only in 1960, with the launch of the heavier, more powerful JCB 4, that JCB’s signature yellow branding made its first appearance.
The JCB 3 went into production in 1961, followed by the JCB 3C in 1963 and the JCB 3CII in 1967 – a model which stood the test of time, staying in production for the next 13 years. It was 1980 which proved to be a turning point with the £24 million investment in the launch of the technologically advanced JCB 3CX.
Fast forward to today and the current generation of backhoe loaders feature automatic deployment of stabilisers on unlevel ground, a Smooth Ride System which cushions the loader and improves load retention when travelling and a TorqueLock feature which reduces on-road fuel consumption by up to 25%.