A smaller version of the digger that made the JCB brand recognisable around the world has been launched at the company's headquarters.

The backhoe loader was invented by JCB founder Joseph Cyril Bamford in 1953 and more than 600,000 have been produced. But as modern construction sites become increasingly compact, customers have been demanding a smaller machine.

JCB has responded by producing a hi-tech 3CX backhoe loader that is 35% smaller than the standard model yet retains all the power and speed of its bigger brother.

The first of the new machines have rolled off the production lines at the World HQ in Rocester, Staffordshire and customers from around the world came to see it for themselves at one of the glitziest JCB machine launches for decades.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: 'It was the backhoe that built JCB into the company that it is today and made us famous around the world. But you can never stand still; you need to innovate to grow.

'More and more of our customers have been telling us that they need a backhoe loader that is smaller simply because they are operating in congested towns and cities and on narrow streets.

'We have answered their call by engineering the 3CX Compact backhoe from the ground up. I'm confident that this innovative machine will win us more and more customers around the world.'

The 3CX Compact is just 1.9 metres wide and 2.4 metres high and has a turning circle of just 5.8 metres, enabling it to turn in a single carriageway. It's capable of travelling at 40kph and comes with air conditioning and power steering.