HRH Prince William today paid his first ever visit to JCB to help the company celebrate a major milestone – the production of its 750,000th machine.
As he arrived at the World Headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire, this afternoon the Royal visitor was given a rousing welcome by flag-waving pupils from three local schools: Dove First and Ryecroft Middle Schools, in Rocester and All Saints First School, Denstone.
He was then introduced to JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, his son Jo Bamford, daughter Alice Bamford, JCB Chief Executive Officer Matthew Taylor and the Managing Director of JCB’s Backhoe Loader Division Paul Grys. Before going on a tour of the offices and shopfloor, The Prince was shown JCB’s first-ever product – a screw-tipping farm trailer made by JCB’s Founder, the late Joseph Cyril Bamford, which now stands proudly in the company’s reception.
On the shopfloor, he toured the fabrication area where components for JCB machines are made and met welding team leader Mick Grantham, 53, of Uttoxeter, who celebrates 30 years’ service with JCB in October.
The Royal visitor was then shown the JCB High Mobility Engineering Excavator (HMEE), the high-speed, high technology JCB backhoe loader. Last year the British Army invested £7 million in a fleet of HMEEs for deployment in Afghanistan. JCB is the world’s number one manufacturer of backhoe loaders and the HMEE is the world’s fastest version of this machine, travelling at speeds of up to 60 mph on paved roads and across open country.
At the machine The Prince met Warrant Officer Callum Taylor, who works for the Royal Engineers’ Trials and Development Unit. He was responsible for conducting the trials on the HMEE to bring it into service with the British Army. Royal Engineers’ Warrant Officer Michael Svinos, who is based with the UK Trade Investment Export Support Team at Bovington in Dorset was also introduced. He is a trained Plant Operator and Instructor, who spoke about the benefits the HMEE will bring to the Army.
After touring the offices, Prince William met a number of specially invited shopfloor and office employees in JCB’s main reception where the production of JCB’s 750,000th product – a 3CX backhoe loader – was officially marked.
JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said: "JCB has come a long way in the past 63 years – from my father’s first-ever product, a farm trailer, to the 750,000th JCB machine. I can hardly believe we have made so many products.
"We couldn’t have done it without our people, the people I like to call the JCB family. So my heartfelt thanks to every one of our employees past and present whose contribution over the years has got us to this momentous milestone."
And he thanked The Prince for "showing support in these tough times to JCB, our employees and to British industry."