Photo by JCB
Jcb Bill Hirst Mbe

Bill Hirst, Third Employee Hired at JCB, Dies at 86

Jan. 8, 2020
Bill Hirst MBE, the third person recruited to work for JCB when the company began in 1947, died earlier this week at the age of 86.

Bill Hirst MBE, the third person recruited to work for JCB when the company began in 1947, died earlier this week at the age of 86. Hirst joined the company as a teaboy at the age of 14 and rose through the ranks to become a director.

JCB chairman Lord Bamford led the tributes.

“Bill and his generation helped my father to build a company which became a real force in the world of construction equipment,” Lord Bamford said. “Bill was very proud to have worked for JCB and will be remembered by many, many people from the early days of the company. I’d like to offer my condolences to Bill’s wife Jean and all her family at this very sad time.”

Hirst was the fourth of eight children, joined the company when he left St. Joseph’s School in Uttoxeter, where he had been Head Boy. He was recruited on a salary of £1 per week when the company was based at stables in Crakemarsh, three miles down the road from what is now JCB’s World Headquarters at Rocester.

Hirst was instrumental in the relocation to Rocester in 1950 to the site of a former cheese factory. He knew JCB founder Joseph Cyril Bamford was searching for a new location for a factory and suggested the Rocester site because it was closer to home and meant he could spend an extra 10 minutes in bed each morning.

Hirst started his National Service in 1951 and was posted as a Royal Military Policeman to Kenya, returning to JCB two years later. He married his wife Jean in 1955 and the couple had four children.

After returning to JCB, Hirst completed 10 years as welding foreman, five in research and then joined the service and spares department at Rocester as service engineer. He later became warranty and final inspection manager. Hirst was awarded the MBE for services to export in the New Year’s Honours List of 1975 and became technical services director in 1981.

Hirst retired in 1991. He was a staunch supporter of the Royal British Legion and served as president of the Uttoxeter branch in retirement.

Speaking on JCB’s 65th anniversary in 2010, Hirst said: I am proud to have been part of JCB – it’s been my life.”