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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.
About to take my usual collection of informal photographs of the group I double-checked with a guide that it was OK to take photos when he promptly marshalled everyone into position for a formal shot under the royal coat of arms on the wall.

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.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph any of this.

Our morning ended with a delicious lunch in their VIP restaurant.


Middleport Pottery

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.
This was different from other potteries of the period which had grown in a haphazard fashion as their businesses had grown.

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.
To add to our disappointment the tearoom  closed at 4.00.
As the pottery closed at 4.00pm we did not have time to explore the site to see aspects not covered in the tours such as the interior of the bottle kiln and the other craft spaces on the site.

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

Another View

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