AG Thompson, founder, was born in St Ives, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in 1863. He learnt his trade as a Saddler and Harness maker in Crown Walk and Crown Street, St. Ives from his father William, a Scotsman.
AG Thompson Pty Ltd was founded in 1890 , a small retail business, set up in a shop at 272 Bay Street, Brighton, selling general leather goods. In a workshop behind the shop Thompson would manufacture harnesses, setting about establishing himself as the leading saddler in Melbourne, Australia.
With a strong business formed upon leather craft, Thompson’s relentless love for sport soon led the business to now take a new direction into the production of Cricket balls under the Kookaburra name.
In 1912, Thompson moved to larger factory premises to cater for an ever growing demand for his craft. By 1938 Thompson and his sons had obtained a large share of the home market and so looked to the rest of the world, starting with South Africa.
During World War 2, the factory even produced baseballs and softballs for United States troops.
The Australian Cricket Board of Control wrote to Australian ball manufacturers for samples to use in the first post war international Test series, involving Don Bradman.
The “Kookaburra Turf” ball, a hand sewn five-layered quilt cricket ball was chosen. It has been used exclusively in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand ever since.
In 1977 Kookaburra was asked by Kerry Packer and the Channel Nine Network (Australia) to develop a white cricket ball to use for possible one-day limited over’s cricket and day-night test cricket for the World Series.
Kookaburra proposed a new method of manufacturing the “Kookaburra Turf” ball. A change agreed to by the Australian Cricket Board and introduced for use in all subsequent Australian Test Cricket matches and World Series Cricket.
Kookaburra diversified into manufacturing the full range of cricket bats, clothing, footwear and protective equipment. It also diversified into the making of hockey balls, in use at the Olympic Games since 1956 in Melbourne, and subsequent Commonwealth Games and Hockey World Cups in recent times.
At the turn of the century, Kookaburra acquired the 200-year old British Cricket ball maker, Alfred Reader & Co, to strengthen its cricket ball position within the English market, while continuing to market Kookaburra cricket balls throughout the cricket-playing world. Readers also manufacturer hockey balls to strengthen the Groups market position in hockey balls worldwide.
In 2009, Kookaburra was approached by Carl Rackemann (former Australian Test bowler) to develop a pink cricket ball for a Breast Cancer Charity cricket match in Queensland. Since then, Kookaburra has been working with a number of international Cricket Boards in testing the feasibility of a pink cricket ball being used in a Day Night Test Match.
Today Kookaburra is the official (red) cricket ball supplier to the main cricket–playing nations other than India and England for Test Matches, and the white “Turf” ball is used exclusively in all ODI’s and T20's worldwide.
This coming year sees 125 years since the company was founded as Kookaburra continues to market a contemporary range of cricket bats, protective equipment, clothing and footwear that are sold in over 50 countries worldwide.