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Sell out crowd adds sparkle to JCB diamond jubilee open day

Tens of thousands of people, from across the length and breadth of Britain, attended a spectacular sell-out open day to mark JCB’s 60th anniversary.

Members of the public and JCB employees alike descended on the company’s World Headquarters, in Rocester, for the Diamond Jubilee event which began with fascinating factory tours and ended with a musical and firework extravaganza.

Retired construction worker Reginald Rushton, 77, who travelled from his home on Anglesey to attend the Open Day said: “This has been a first-class event. Everything from the factory tour to the musical finale has been very well organised. Seeing the JCB success story first hand makes you feel proud to be British.”

Throughout the day there was a packed line up of entertainment in a huge open air arena erected in the factory grounds, with TV celebrity Christopher Biggins on hand to compere many of the events.

Joining the line-up of entertainment were the world-famous JCB Dancing Diggers which put on a show of exhilarating routines accompanied, on its UK debut, by the JCB GT – a high speed digger fitted with a V8 Chevrolet engine and capable of doing more than 100mph.

Other entertainment included fairground rides, a clown show, a falconry display and a talking dalek, designed and built by JCB employees Chris Earle, of Uttoxeter and James Morley, of Hilton, Derbyshire.

There was also a display of JCB machines from throughout the decades which proved popular with people of all ages who clamoured to have photos taken with their favourite excavator.

One of the highlights was a JCB inter-factory It’s a Knockout competition. In the end, the Shovel Heads, a team from JCB Earthmovers in Cheadle, were triumphant and received their winners’ medals from JCB Managing Director and CEO John Patterson.

Then as the sun set, the band struck up with a medley of music from the last six decades, and as the night came to a close and fireworks lit up sky, the crowd joined the band in a sing-along of patriotic anthems including Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory.

The Open day – which attracted a sell out crowd of 30,000 – was laid on primarily for JCB’s 4,500 employees at 10 UK factories in Rocester, Rugeley, Uttoxeter, Wrexham, Cheadle and Church Broughton in Derbyshire.

But the event also captured the imagination of the public who snapped up the remaining tickets for Saturday’s event, with all proceeds being donated to charity.

By the time the doors opened at 10am, hundreds of people had already queued for hours in rainy conditions to be the first to get a glimpse behind the scenes. By the end of the day more than 27,000 visitors had taken part in the factory tour – and this number had swelled by another 3,000 who attended the lakeside concert and firework display.

JCB Worldwide Events Manager Geoff Bourne said: “This has been the single biggest public celebration in JCB’s history and it proved to be a fantastic success. There were people here from all over the country, from afar afield as Scotland and the South of England.

“The event proved to be a real family occasion but we couldn’t have organised it without the team of volunteers from throughout JCB who gave up their time to make it such a success.”

The event spotlighted the JCB success story, which began on October 23 1945, when the late Joseph Cyril Bamford – universally known as Mr JCB – set up his own company in a lock-up garage in Uttoxeter. He went on to make his first product, a tipping trailer which he sold for £45.

From these humble beginnings, the company has flourished and now has production factories on four continents and a turnover of £1 billion.

Dave Allen, 40, a Product Specialist at JCB’s Compact Products in Cheadle said: “This has been a great day for everyone associated with JCB. It has also given our families the chance to see where we work and what the company is all about. But the number of other people who have attended, despite the rainy conditions, is magnificent.”

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