In 1815 William Bickford was born August 18th at Churchstow West Alvington Devon. William was one of 14 children. At fifteen William was apprenticed to learn the trade of druggist in the small town of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire.
With no prospect of a permanent job he decided to immigrate to Adelaide in 1838. He paid £20 for his passage from London and had £10 cash on arrival in Adelaide to start his new life. His intention was to become a sheep grazier. On arrival in the Colony the cost of procuring sheep and cattle far exceeded his very limited resources so he turned his hand to his learning as a druggist.
In 1839 William Bickford obtained a dispensing job on North Terrace. It was known as the Adelaide Dispensary. William met Anne Margaret Garrett (born 1810).
William and Anne had seven children - William in 1841, Harry in 1843, Elizabeth in 1844, Eulalia in 1846, James in 1848, Edward in 1849 and Mary in 1851.
On September 9th 1850, William Bickford died. It is likely he may have contracted pneumonia. Anne Bickford who had been involved in the business as bookkeeper decided to continue trading as Bickford Chemist.
When Harry Bickford ‘came of age’ on February 23rd 1864 his mother formed the business into a partnership, A. M. Bickford & Sons. Harry Bickford held one third of the shares, his mother the balance. Later in the year William Bickford was employed in the business as the salesman. He would soon become a shareholder and principal in the business.
Harry Bickford took charge of dispensing and began to develop the company’s first proprietary products. William Bickford was in charge of sales and distribution. This internal/external management structure will serve them well over the next forty years. In 1865 the business ‘chemists & druggists’ moved to the more commodious premises at 19 Hindley Street.
William Bickford’s children became involved in the business, with Reginald and Harold holding management positions.
In August 1879 Bickford’s began moving their operations as the large Currie Street premises became inhabitable. In 1888 a new laboratory and assay plant was installed. The factory employed 53 hands. Harry and William Bickford continued the shift from retail into manufacturing, wholesaling and importing.
Bickford’s opened their first branch office in Perth in 1895. Sidney Bickford (born 1874), William’s son moved to Perth and became departmental manager of the Perth branch. One of his sons, William Bickford carried the William Bickford name forward in Australia.
In March 1898 Harding Bickford (William’s brother) was sent to London to study pharmacy. Harding Bickford became managing director of the Brisbane office in 1909. He died of pneumonia in Brisbane on August 5th 1919.
William and Harry Bickford retired from the business in 1906. William’s son, Harold Bickford became managing director and ran Bickford’s until 1937; he died in 1958.
Over the years, our Bickford’s cordial bottles have proudly poured a number of different variants including the famous Lime Juice cordial. As consumer preferences and production methods have evolved, we’ve made slight changes to the original bottle while in some years changing its design completely from the original. The bottle found on shelves today replicates the original design and shape which consumers have grown to love and recognise. Promotional swing top bottles have also been made available over the years.