JCB recently celebrated a unique milestone as its 750,000th backhoe loader rolled off the production line. The machine was manufactured at the firm’s factory in Staffordshire, the same location in which production started almost 70 years ago.
The JCB backhoe is familiar to many Irish farmers and construction workers, with many older machines still earning their keep on Irish farms.
In 1953, the late Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE first came up with the idea of the backhoe loader. For the first time, a single machine which featured both a front shovel and rear excavator arm was designed.
The backhoe entered its first full year of production in 1954, with 35 machines being manufactured. From this point, it took over 20 years for the firm to hit the 50,000 unit mark. Today, JCB manufactures backhoe loaders in the UK, India, Brazil and the USA. JCB claims that its backhoe has been the number one selling brand worldwide for the past 19 consecutive years.
JCB’s first backhoe was the Mark I. The product developed rapidly, with the launch of the Hyddra-Digga two years later 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. The 3CII stood the test of time, staying in production for the next 13 years.
JCB explained that it was 1980 which proved to be a real turning point with the £24m investment in the launch of the technologically advanced JCB 3CX – a machine which has become a backhoe icon around the world. The firm added that it was the launch of this machine which was the real catalyst for growth of backhoe sales and for JCB.
The latest backhoe production milestone comes after JCB celebrated the manufacture of its 500,000th backhoe in December 2012 – a 5CX.
Over the years, the JCB backhoe has been the subject of a song which made the top of the charts, and was used by thieves in a failed attempt to steal £350m worth of diamonds from the Millennium Dome in 2000.