It is now 70 years since the JCB backhoe loader was first released to an unsuspecting world and it has stayed with us ever since, a quite remarkable achievement for any machine that has gone on to sell more than 900,000 units.

To celebrate this milestone, the company is to make 70 Platinum 3CX models and four 4CX loaders for sale worldwide.

The Platinum edition models will be tricked out with all the latest JCB goodies. These include servo excavator controls, Powerslide, air conditioning and bi-directional auxiliary flow hydraulics.

JCB Platinum model
Just 70 units of the Platinum model will be produced to celebrate 70 years of production

The machines will bear limited edition Platinum decals and grille badge; they will have Platinum-coloured wheels (not shown here), while in the cab there will be an embroidered graphic in the carpet and upgraded seat material with 70th anniversary branding.

If this doesn’t project the message quite as clearly as JCB might wish, the steering wheel centre cap features the 70th logo and each machine will carry a commemorative plaque.

Customers will also receive a special platinum gift pack with the backhoe loader.

Fordson base

It was late in the early 1950s that Joseph Cyril Bamford produced a front loader specifically for the Fordson Major tractor.

Then in 1953, he combined this with a rear acting digging arm to create what we now know as the JCB, although it was still an adaption of a tractor rather than a purpose-built machine.

JCB built on Fordson Major
A Fordson major provided the base upon which JCB fitted its digging and loading attachments

The backhoe element was based on a design that he had brought back from Norway, although there is little record of how it was used in that country; the Norwegians tend to be great adaptors of machinery and never developed a fully fledged tractor manufacturing industry of its own.

Diagram of first JCB
An original specification sheet for the first JCB combined loader and excavator

Just when it became a fully integrated machine is something that may be debated, especially by one of JCB’s competitors which produced its own version in 1957.

The JCB Hydra-Digga of the same year certainly marked a turning point in having a purpose-designed cab although still built around a Fordson.

The JCB 3C and beyond

The model that really put JCB on the map was the 3C which arrived 10 years after the original machine.

This is the variant that is often said to have revolutionised the construction industry and is the true grandfather of the present range.

Original JCB 3C
The JCB 3C put the company firmly on the map and made a terrific impact on the construction industry

Since then, the concept has been applied to larger and smaller models as well as enjoyed the addition of a driven front axle to give the wide range of models that we have seen over the years.

Yet the greatest accolade of all is that JCB has become the generic term for the backhoe loader, just as as Hoover is for vacuum cleaners and GPS has become for satellite navigation systems.

Early production line
The JCB production facility at Rocester, in Staffordshire, which is still the home for the company

It will not be long before the millionth ‘JCB’ is produced, and with the company’s famed flare for publicity, that is an event which will not be allowed to pass without a rather grand celebration.