See what really happens at Watsonian Squire sidecars
This small team of experts have been building weird and wonderful outfits for over 100 years
Think of a road-going sidecar outfit and the picture you conjur up will almost certainly be of a WatsonianSquire, Britain’s oldest and most famous sidecar firm. Watsonian were founded in Birmingham in 1912 with the firm’s popularity peaking in the 1950s (just before the arrival of small, affordable family cars such as the Mini) when a motorcycle and sidecar was often the main form of transport for working families. During the 1960s and ’70s, with the growth of cheap cars and motorcycle fashion swinging towards Japanese superbikes, sidecar popularity waned. Watsonian moved to their present location in 1982 before merging with Squire, the UK’s other major sidecar brand, in 1986. Today they’re located in the same, slightly quaint, Nissen hut industrial unit alongside a variety of other small engineering businesses in rolling parkland in the heart of the Cotswolds.
The small team of eight is headed by Ben Matthews and builds a range of six sidecars with virtually all the build taking place on-site.
And, with the continuing popularity of retro machines such as Triumph’s Bonneville (Watsonian’s most popular fitment) and growing exports, the firm are very much back on the up. Watsonian currently produce 70-80 sidecars a year with 40% of those headed overseas. “We’re very busy,” says Matthews. “The market’s come back to us as well with retros like the Bonnie.” Six models are currently offered, from the three-strong GP family (comprising basic Manx, GP, with bucket seat and boot, and the 200mm wider GP700) to the more modern Monza plus the teardropshaped Meteor, which has been inspired by the drop tanks of a WW2 Mosquito aircraft. Prices start at
around £4000, with the fitting kit and labour about £1000 more. All are made to order, and there’s a three to four month turnaround time. And if you fancy one (common reasons include becoming less steady on two wheels or wanting more carrying capacity, or to ride as a family), Watsonian also ensure your transition to three wheels will be as smooth as possible. “Riding with a sidecar is very different at first,” says Matthews. “So we don’t let anyone go until they’re ready. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of space here in the park to train new owners!”
Everything is made in the UK and all the assembly takes place in Watsonian’s Nissen hut
US muscle meets British eccentricity
Ben Matthews heads a dedicated team of eight at Watsonian’s HQ deep in the Costwolds Quite possibly the coolest Ducati Scrambler around
The firm has an unbroken history going back to 1912