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?

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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.

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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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