Diggers, especially in the USA, are sometimes called backhoe loaders. In the UK the digger is often referred to simply by its iconic brand name, the initials JCB.
The first real JCB was built by Joseph Cyril Bamford who began his famous UK company from his garage in 1945.
The digger was invented by Joseph Cyril Bamford in 1953. Joe Bamford (1916 – 2001) worked in engineering before serving with the RAF in WW2. After the War, Joe set up a workshop in a rented lock-up garage. Bamford’s first product was a trailer. J C Bamford (Excavators) Ltd was founded in the Staffordshire town of Uttoxeter.
In 1953 the first JCB digger was produced. The farm tractor had been around since the 19th century. Bamford added a front bucket and back scoop or backhoe and the now legendary JCB was born.
It wasn’t long before the JCB became a widely used machine which today is exported all over the world. Key to its success was its versatility. The JCB is ideal for construction and landscaping jobs as well as road building and mending. The seat in the JCB’s cab can swivel to face the backhoe and its stabilizers when extended make the unit a very stable platform. The front scoop is especially useful for scraping, grading, lifting, loading and carrying whilst the backhoe can perform a multitude of tasks, not least of which is digging precise trenches.
The JCB is very suitable for use in urban environments where space may be restricted. It also comes in varying sizes, such as the 2CX, 3CX and 4CX JCB. For larger jobs an excavator may be more appropriate, and on smaller jobs a skid steer or loadall.
The JCB can be fitted with a variety of attachments and buckets for use in different tasks. These include the breaker, grapple and auger. A breaker is ideal for breaking up concrete and tarmac surfaces. The grapple attachment is useful for lifting and dragging. An auger fitted to a digger can be used for drilling and post hole boring. The front loader bucket of a JCB is often fitted with a clamshell or retractable section for more efficient loading of say muck, aggregates or rubble.
In 1978 JCB launched their enormously popular Loadall telescopic handler. By 1990 JCB had begun producing the Fastrac Tractor capable of the relatively fast road speed of 40mph.
When Joseph Bamford CBE died in 2001, JCB could very proudly be described as the biggest privately-held engineering company in the UK and a global brand with a truly world class reputation.