The name JCB is synonymous with plant equipment such as backhoe loaders, telescopic handlers, mini excavators and site dumpers, as well as larger tracked and wheeled vehicles. But where did the famous brand come from, and how did it develop its stock to include the essentials of any modern-day building site?

It all began in a small Uttoxeter garage in 1945, where the company’s founder, Joseph Cyril Bamford, built a tipping trailer with a £1 welding set. When someone bought it for £45 at the local market, the JCB empire that spans multiple continents was launched! Despite the huge expansion, it still remains a family run business today.

In 1953, the company designed one of the world’s first backhoe loaders. This is a vehicle based on an agricultural tractor, with a two-part hydraulic articulated arm and digging bucket attached to the rear end, and a shovel or bucket fitted at the front. It is usually a smaller vehicle that is widely used in urban engineering and construction projects.

The versatility of the backhoe loader means that it is one of the most popular construction site vehicles, used by both commercial building and engineering companies, and private landowners for small to medium sized projects.

They can be used to carry building materials, as well as for digging and excavation works. Other purposes include breaking asphalt, paving, and grappling, and as a power source for other equipment. They are most commonly referred to as simply a “JCB” in the UK, although of course, other manufacturers, such as Bobcat and Caterpillar Inc., also produce versions.

In the 1960s, JCB launched its first crawler excavator. This is a tracked earthmoving machine, that can be used for digging and loading, and is capable of supporting a variety of attachments. The tank-like rotating tracks mean that it is better at tackling steep or uneven terrain than a wheeled vehicle, and it is more stable.

Crawler excavators are available to hire or buy in a range of sizes, from mini, weighing around 1.5 tonnes, to heavy duty 8 tonne machines. Which size you need depends on how manoeuvrable you need the equipment to be. They all have in common a hydraulic two-part articulated arm, with a digging bucket and a rotating cab.

They are typically used for digging trenches, landscape grading, demolition, mining, and any heavy-duty work such as earth moving and the lifting and moving of large objects. They are often used on hilly sites, as they are more stable than a wheeled plant machine. Attachment can be used for breaking up rocks and concrete, and for shaking and sorting material.

In 1977, JCB launched one of its most popular machines, the telescopic handler. This is a multipurpose lifting and moving machine, often called a ‘telehandler’. They are a staple construction site tool, and are also commonly used in factories, warehouses, recycling plants, and farms.

A telehandler can be used for similar functions to a forklift truck, and it has an extendable boom that can be used to lift objects to and from heights, much like a small-scale crane. They are most often used for lifting, moving, and placing heavy loads, although they can be adapted to digging and earthworks, and are even used as snowploughs!

In the 1990s, JCB launched its famous 165 robot skid steer loader, which they claim is the world’s safest. These are usually a four-wheeled vehicle, that can be adapted to a wide range of demolition and clearing work.  Its main advantage is that it is light and compact, and can be used with a wide range of attachments.

The skid steer can have a bucket attachment for lifting and carrying. It can also be fitted with a ripper, tiller, or a trencher for excavation work. Furthermore, it can be used as a cement mixer, and for stump grinding and wood chipping. Various digging attachments mean that it is invaluable for both construction and agricultural sites.

Although JCB manufacture skid steers, the machine is most synonymous with the Bobcat brand, and people will often refer to them simply as ‘Bobcats.’ Because the machine is so versatile, it is often the most cost-effective choice for anyone looking for plant hire in London.

This one machine can carry out many of the tasks that larger and less fuel-efficient machinery is used for. It can be used on rough terrain, and it won’t damage the surface of more fragile terrain as much as a heavier plant machine. It can also be used indoors in many cases, such as in agricultural buildings, and warehouses.