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Death of a Legend

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    01 April 2001 - 02:00

    JOSEPH Cyril Bamford, the founder of the J C Bamford Excavator Group of Companies and the man whose initials have become a dictionary definition for a mechanical digger, died peacefully on 1 March, aged 84.

    Joe Bamford, who became a legend in his own right and was known universally as Mr JCB, was born on 21 June 1916 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. After the war he joined the family firm manufacturing agricultural machinery.

    An innovative and skilled engineer, on 23 October 1945 he set up his own company in a garage in Uttoxeter where, using a second-hand welding machine, he made his first product — a tipping trailer built from army surplus materials. He sold it at Uttoxeter market for £45.

    From these humble beginnings, Mr Bamford introduced hydraulic engineering into his work in 1948 and his business began to prosper. In succeeding years he built and marketed the famous JCB backhoe loader which was to become the foundation of the company’s fortunes.

    Today JCB are one of the world’s top five manufacturers of construction equipment, producing machines on three continents. The company has 4,500 employees worldwide and in 1999 achieved sales of £833 million and a profit of £91.2 million.

    In 1968 Mr Bamford was awarded the CBE for his services to exports, and when he retired in 1975 his engineering genius and marketing flair had established JCB as one of Britain’s great post-was success stories. He was succeeded by Sir Anthony Bamford who, at the age of 29, became chairman of the JCB group of companies.

    Joseph Bamford is survived by his wife, Marjorie, and two sons, Sir Anthony and Mark.

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