Watsonian sidecars

Mick Payne takes a look at the long-lived Gloucestershire brand.

Last time I compiled a set of features on Britain’s sidecar manufacturers, there were more than twice the number there are now. Watsonian was strong then and is, if anything, even stronger now – indeed, it has been around since the dawn of motorcycling!

It was in 1912 that Fred Watson, faced with a familiar problem, worked on an idea that was to help change motorcycling. Living as he, and many others, did in a terraced house with a passageway, he had a dilemma. A solo would fit and could be taken to the rear of the house, but a sidecar?

His solution was to design a sidecar that would fold inward and make a vehicle just over 2ft 6in wide, and so was born the Patent Collapsible Sidecar Company Ltd.

An original Monaco mounted to a Vincent.

By the end of 1914, Watsonian, as the company had become, had a range of 11 models and the need for a folding variant was diminishing.

A Norton/Watsonian ambulance was supplied to the military for use on the front line in 1916 that looked worryingly like a wooden coffin – the grey paintwork and a Red Cross emblem were the only things distinguishing it from the standard tradesman’s box sidecar.

By the end of the conflict, Watsonian was the largest sidecar manufacturer in Britain, even producing a taxi version to help ex-soldiers find work.

Read more and to view more images in the March 2019 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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