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Bamfords and their people

Digger Blogger | 13:38, Thu October 22 2015

Like any good business, the history of JCB is as much a history of its people as of its products. This includes the three generations of Bamfords: Joe, son Anthony and grandson Jo, who is now surely destined to take over the family business before much longer.

As part of the 70th birthday celebrations of both the company and Sir Anthony this week, JCB has released an archive of photos that are too good to go unpublished here, so – as you may have noticed – I’ve subdivided them into various blog posts under different categories. This one is about the people of JCB. That’s some of them there, up above, with the boss, front left

But let’s first go back. The next photo, below, is taken in 1947. It shows Anthony Bamford in his father's arm. From left are early employees Bill Hirst, Arthur Harrison and Bert Holmes.



It has been something of a tradition at JCB that when the company has a good year, the employees get a share. When in 1964 sales rose 60% to £8 million, employees shared a £250,000 bonus. It is said that some employees were able to buy their first homes with the bonus they received.

Mr Bamford declared: “I am giving you this money because I want you to share in the success of the company you have helped make.”

Here’s Bill Hirst again, along with John Wheeldon holding Mr JCB aloft in celebration.



Employee training has also been important to the company. Here’s Mr Bamford presenting certificates to the company's first intake of apprentices. This is 1964 again.



In 1975 Anthony Bamford, aged just 30, took over day to day control of the company from his father. In a farewell message to staff, the founder said: “Anthony faces the tough job of moving JCB forward through the next decades into a new century. This is a demanding task but he has been well trained for it and is supported by a very strong team from works staff to management. There cannot be any limit to the successes.”

He is the new boss at the head of the boardroom table, having just swapped seats with his father. (A very Mad Men shot, this one.)



As we know, the company continued to flourish and 20 years later notched up production of its 200,000th backhoe loader.



In 1990, at the age of 45, Anthony Bamford was knighted – an honour, he said, which “recognised the efforts of the whole JCB team”.  To show he meant it, he gave everyone the day off.

The old man, who’d only ever got a mere CBE, back in 1969,  was by now spending most of his time in Majorca enjoying his well-earned retirement. But photos suggest he was on hand for advice and opinions.


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Joseph Cyril Bamford died on 1st March 2001. Flags at JCB factories around the world flew at half-mast.



In 2004 this next photo was taken, showing employees celebrating the production of what is officially recorded as the 500,000th JCB machine.



When you make as many different things as JCB does these days, what counts as a machine is a moot point. One person’s machine, for example, might be another person’s attachment. However, half a million of anything is a big number, so let’s press on. There’s more.

Yep, it’s the millionth machine. It took 59 years for JCB to make its first 500,000 machines but only another nine more years to make the next 500,000, such was the scale of the worldwide manufacturing operation by now. Here’s the photo call for that landmark in 2013.



As mentioned at the outset, JCB remains very much a family business and in 2006 Sir Anthony Bamford’s son Jo became a director of JCB. He is now managing director of JCB Compact Products.

Here he is with mum Carole, Lady Bamford (a successful businesswoman in her own right, through Daylesford Organics), and with his dad in 2010 at the opening of the Story of JCB exhibition, a permanent showcase at World Headquarters marking the growth of JCB and the Bamford family’s roots in industry, from Uttoxeter blacksmiths to agricultural machinery suppliers to JCB.



In 2013, not before some minor controversy over his Conservative Party donations, Sir Anthony Bamford was appointed to the Conservative benches of the House of Lords, taking the not-so-snappy title of Baron Bamford of Daylesford in the County of Gloucestershire and of Wootton in the County of Staffordshire.



The story, no doubt, continues...





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