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JCB mourns Bill Hirst

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 ( #956 ) - Rocester, United Kingdom
Bill Hirst MBE
Bill Hirst MBE
Tributes have been paid to a former JCB employee who joined the company as a teaboy and rose through the ranks to become a director. Bill Hirst MBE - who was the third person recruited by JCB in 1947 - passed away this week at the age of 86. JCB chairman Lord Bamford has led the tributes to the man who joined JCB when the company was in its infancy. "Bill and his generation helped my father to build a company which became a real force in the world of construction equipment," he says. "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." Bill, the fourth of eight children, joined JCB as a 14-year-old tea boy when he left St Joseph's School in Uttoxeter, where he had been head boy. He was recruited on a salary of GBP1 a week when the company was based at stables at Crakemarsh near Rocester. Bill 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. Bill started his National Service in 1951 and was posted as a Royal Military Policeman to Kenya, returning to JCB two years later. He married Jean in 1955 and the couple had four children. On his return to JCB, Bill completed 10 years as welding foreman, five in research and then joined the service and spares department at Rocester as service engineer, later becoming warranty and final inspection manager. He was awarded the MBE for services to export in the New Year's Honours List of 1975 and became technical services director in 1981. Bill retired in 1991.
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