T.F. Watson, a Birmingham builder, designed a folding sidecar that could be wheeled through through the narrow alleys between terraced houses. In 1912 he established the Watsonian Folding Sidecar Co.
His company flourished, building sidecar ambulances during the Great War and models for leisure, sport, and tradesmen when peace returned. Following a devastating fire in 1930, the factory relocated to a huge building in the Greet district of Birmingham. As the economy recovered from the Great Depression, so Watsonian introduced luxury touring models and sports sidecars.
Production reached 200 units per week during the motorcycling boom of the 1950s and Watsonian won four world sidecar championships with Eric Oliver. As wages increased in the Sixties and small cars like the Mini became affordable, sidecars fell out of fashion and by 1965 they only accounted for 20% of Watsonian’s output.
In 1973 Squire entered the market with a radical new sports sidecar. Designed for the latest generation of high-performance Japanese superbikes Squire appealed to a new customer base of leisure riders. Shortly after Watsonian’s 75th anniversary, the two companies merged to create Britain’s biggest and longest established sidecar manufacturer.
Watsonian Tradesman’s Sidecar 1920s.
Watsonian factory, Birmingham 1932.
Watsonian Monaco 1955