William Bickford, a 23-year-old chemist’s assistant, left England for South Australia in 1838. On the voyage, he met Anne Margaret Garret – his wife to be – and they arrived in Adelaide in February 1839.
Although he dreamed of starting his new life as a sheep grazier, William soon discovered that the price of sheep and cattle by far exceeded his limited resources. So he returned to his original training, first working as a dispensary assistant on North Terrace and then opening one of Adelaide’s first standalone apothecary in Hindley Street.
William and Anne had seven children and Anne worked as bookkeeper in the family business. Over the next ten years business boomed and the Bickfords became a prosperous Adelaide family.
In 1850, William Bickford died at the age of 35, most likely from pneumonia. Anne Bickford continued trading and son Harry joined the business in 1864, then son William in 1871 when the company became A. M. Bickford & Sons.
Looking to diversify, the family built the South Australian Cordial Factory in 1872 and started producing cordials and soft drinks in 1874. One of their very first cordials was the now iconic Bickford’s Lime Juice Cordial.
In 1920, Bickford’s Coffee and Chicory Essence (now Bickford's Iced Coffee Syrup) was released to instant success. It went on to win the coveted gold medal at the 1930 All Australian Exhibition.
Throughout the 19th century, successive generations continued the Bickford’s family business that grew from manufacturing beverages and pharmaceutical supplies to wholesaling and medical equipment.
From 1936 to 1999, A.M. Bickford’s passed through several changes of ownership. Finally in 1999, the company returned to its rightful status as a proudly Australian family owned and managed business.
Bickford’s Australia moved into a purpose built, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in 2005 and the company continues to grow and prosper.
In 2006, Bickford's Lime Juice Cordial was recognised by the National Trust of South Australia as a Heritage Icon.
Over the years Bickford’s distinctively shaped cordial bottles and unique labels have developed an iconic status of their own.
As aesthetics and production methods have evolved, so the bottle design has changed. There have been times in Bickford’s history where the bottle shape was completely different – in the days when tradition was seen as old fashioned and a desire for ‘modernity’ was all the rage.
Now it’s come full circle and the heritage values of this iconic cordial bottle are celebrated. The bottle on shelves today replicates the original design and shape. It pays tribute to the special place Bickford’s cordial holds in hearts and minds around Australia.