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JCB Factory Tour
We arrived on time and from the outset we were treated as VIPs and were served refreshments in the spacious entrance hall.
We were then led upstairs for a presentation in their lecture theatre followed by an extensive guided tour of "The JCB Story". It was a comprehensive, well illustrated exhibition starting from the beginnings in a small garage, the changes of site as the business grew, the disagreements with "Bamford and Sons" - the family agricultural machinery business - to the present incarnation as a highly successful world business built upon innovation and satisfying their customers.
The tour of the factory was the most exciting part of the visit. We saw the production line for the backhoe loader, from the processing of raw sheet steel in computer driven laser cutting machines, to the automatic welding of large machine parts, through the shot blasting to the bright yellow painting shops, through the assembly lines, until the finished machines were being driven into the yard.
Our morning ended with a delicious lunch in their VIP restaurant.
We arrived at 2.00 for our 1 hour tours. These were extensive and informative.
It was explained how the factory had been purpose-built to reflect the work-flow of the production process.
We saw the manufacture of slip for casting ware and the reduction of the slip back to a clay body for use in the making of flat ware. We then went upstairs to see mould making and slip casting and then on to the production of flat ware on semi-automatic machines. We watched as Leeds ware teapots were being decorated by the addition of cast pieces and by the decorative piercing which is a feature of this ware.
We were shown how ware is stacked on trolleys for the various kilns and followed the process into the decorating shops where ladies deftly put flat patterns onto curved teapots.
Unfortunately, they were 2 hours long and we did not get a talk, as promised, on the process of restoration.
For a good video about FieldenCleggBradleyStudios' approach to the restoration project visit:
For even more detail go to the architects' webpage, (which includes the above video):
Another View JCB & Middleport Pottery