At 75 years, a look back at JCB’s construction equipment milestones

Marcia Doyle
Updated Oct 24, 2020
A specifiction sheet for JCB’s first backhoe loader, the JCB MK 1 Excavator.A specifiction sheet for JCB’s first backhoe loader, the JCB MK 1 Excavator.

Long before there were tech companies bragging about their humble starts in a garage, Joseph Cyril Bamford used a tiny garage to create his first product—a tipping trailer—from World War II scrap.

The company Bamford founded—JCB—is now celebrating its 75th anniversary, a year in which it also produced its 750,000th backhoe. Worldwide it now employs 12,000, has 22 plants in five countries and 750 dealers with 2,000 locations. It is still owned by the Bamford family.

The 4C backhoe – the first machine JCB exports to the U.S.The 4C backhoe – the first machine JCB exports to the U.S.

In addition to its 75th global anniversary,  JCB is also celebrating its 50th anniversary in North America. The company currently has 100-plus construction and agriculture dealers in North America with 300 locations.

Milestones along the 75-year journey include:

1953: Bamford invents JCB’s first backhoe, the Mk 1, creating a single machine with a hydraulic rear excavator and front-mounted shovel. The company logo first appeared on a machine; it was registered as a trademark five years later.

1962: The first appearance of the company’s Dancing Diggers, which became a fixture at trade shows. The JCB 3C backhoe began production.

The JCB 530 telescopic handler entered the market in 1977.The JCB 530 telescopic handler entered the market in 1977.

1964: The company exports its first machine to the U.S., a JCB 4C backhoe.

1970: JCB sets up its U.S. base in Whitemarsh, near Baltimore, Maryland.

1977: The Loadall telescopic handler is introduced, now one of the company’s most successful products. The company produced its 200,000 Loadall in 2016.

1988: Wraps come off the JCB GT, a marketing promotion backhoe capable of doing 100 mph.

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

JCB developed the High Mobility Engineer Excavator for the U.S. military starting in 2005.JCB developed the High Mobility Engineer Excavator for the U.S. military starting  in 2005.

2004: JCB enters engine manufacturing, introducing the Dieselmax engine. It later promoted this new line by setting a world record with the JCB Diselmax streamliner car, which reached speeds of 350.092 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It still holds the title.

2005: The company receives a $140 million award to provide the U.S. Army with its High Mobility Engineer Excavator, a backhoe designed for military engineering tasks.

2013: JCB celebrated the production of its one millionth machine.

JCB electric excavators, first unveiled in 2017.JCB electric excavators, first unveiled in 2017.

2017: JCB enters the powered access equipment market and unveils its first electric compact excavator, the 19C-1E.

2018: The company launches its new X-Series excavators.

2019: Setting a Guinness World Record for fastest tractor, JCB’s Fastrac One reached a speed of 103.6 mph in June. Not content, the company developed its Fastrac Two, which in October that same year hit a peak speed of 153.881 mph and averaged 135.191 mph.

Celebrating the production of the 750,000th JCB backhoe loader at JCB World headquarters, Rocester, Staffordshire, England. Lord Anthony Bamford, JCB chairman, is pictured third from right.Celebrating the production of the 750,000th JCB backhoe loader at JCB World headquarters, Rocester, Staffordshire, England. Lord Anthony Bamford, JCB chairman, is pictured third from right.

2020: The company marks the production of is 750,000th backhoe. It also unveils a working prototype of a hydrogen-powered excavator, the 20-ton 220X, which JCB claims as a first among construction equipment manufacturers.