JCB was founded by
Joseph Cyril Bamford in October 1945 in
Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, England. He rented a lock-up garage 3.7 by 4.6 m (12 by 15 ft). In it, using a welding set which he bought second-hand for £1 from
English Electric, he made his first vehicle, a tipping trailer from war-surplus materials. The trailer's sides and floor were made from steel sheet that had been part of
air-raid shelters. On the same day as his son Anthony was born, he sold the trailer at a nearby market for £45 (plus a part-exchanged farm
cart) and at once made another trailer. At one time he made vehicles in Eckersley's coal yard in Uttoxeter. The first trailer and the welding set have been preserved.
The first vehicle JCB made (a farm trailer)
In 1948, six people were working for the company, and it made the first
hydraulic tipping trailer in Europe. In 1950, it moved to an old cheese factory in
Rocester, still employing six. A year later, he began painting his products yellow. In 1953, his first backhoe loader was launched, and the JCB logo appeared for the first time. It was designed by Derby Media and advertising designer Leslie Smith. In 1957, the firm launched the "hydra-digga", incorporating the excavator and the major loader as a single all-purpose tool useful for the agricultural and construction industries.
In 1960, JCB's hydraulic tractors entered the North American market, proving a long-lasting success. JCB became, and still is, the brand leader in the world. By 1964, JCB had sold over 3,000 3C backhoe loaders. The next year, the first 360-degree excavator was introduced, the JCB 7.
In 1978, the
Loadall machine was introduced. The next year, JCB started its operation in
India. In 1991, the firm entered a joint venture with
Sumitomo of Japan to produce excavators, which ended in 1998.
 Two years later, a JCB factory was completed in
Savannah, Georgia in the USA, and the next year a factory was opened in
Production of the first engine designed and manufactured by JCB, the JCB444
diesel engine, started in 2004.
 In 2005, for the first time in nearly forty years, JCB bought a company, purchasing the German equipment firm
Vibromax. In the same year, the firm opened a new factory in
Pudong, China. By 2006, the firm had 4000 employees, twice what it had in 1975.
Planning of a new £40 million pound JCB Heavy Products site began following the launch of an
architectural design competition in 2007 managed by
 and by the next year, the firm began to move from its old site in Pinfold Street in Uttoxeter to the new site beside the A50; the Pinfold Street site was demolished in 2009. During that year, JCB announced plans to make India its largest manufacturing hub. Its factory at
Ballabgarh in Haryana, was to become the world's largest
backhoe loader manufacturing facility.
JCB shed 2,000 jobs during the recession, but in 2010 it announced it was recruiting up to 200 new workers.
The company was a member of the
CBI business lobby group until 2016. In October 2016, it was reported that JCB had left the CBI in the summer of 2016 following the Brexit vote.
 JCB has also been a significant donor to the UK
Conservative Party; since 2007 JCB and related Bamford entities have given the party £8.1m in cash or kind.
 JCB chairman
Anthony Bamford donated £100,000 to
Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit group.