Joseph Cyril Bamford
You may not recognise his name but his initials are likely to be instantly recognisable, as my namesake, Joe Bamford was the man responsible for inventing the JCB.
He was born into an agricultural engineering family in 1916 and after his apprenticeship, a position in the family firm and a stint in the RAF during WWII, he set up his own company in 1945 making welded farm trailers.
His initial success resulted from a number of major breakthroughs. He was the first person in Europe to sell hydraulic lifting trailers and from his experience with these, he subsequently designed and developed the famous backhoe loader in the early 1950′s.
Joe’s decision to take a basic tractor chassis and attach a large bucket to the front and a versatile digging arm (or hoe) to the back with a rotating seat allowing the driver to operate either attachment was a revolution, addressing not only the needs of the agricultural market, but also anticipating the massive rise in needs of the post war construction industry.
This new, relatively small and highly maneuverable machine was popular right from the beginning, as it could be used on a wide diversity of projects, from laying simple pipelines and cables through open fields, right up to the complex redevelopment of new town centres, and due to the company’s philosophy of “simplicate don’t complicate”, they were very straightforward to use. In fact the initial design concept of the backhoe loader was so good, that the digger has changed relatively little over the years.
Not only a brilliant engineer, Mr. JCB (as he was known throughout the industry) was also a very shrewd marketing man, and it was his decision in 1951 to paint all of the equipment coming out of his factory bright yellow, that was in my opinion arguably his most brilliant, enabling his company to become the largest privately owned engineering company in the UK at the time of his death.