Former World sidecar champion Stan Dibben was guest of honour at Watsonian Sidecars’ annual factory open weekend on 22nd-23rd June. Stan, who won the 1953 world racing championship in partnership with Eric Oliver on a Norton motorcycle/Watsonian sidecar outfit, officially opened the company’s refurbished and expanded 1200 square foot showroom in Blockley, near the Cotswold market town of Moreton-in-Marsh.
Now in its eighth year, the event drew visitors from as far afield as Scotland and Germany. As well as a chance to see inside the factory where Watsonian have manufactured their sidecars for the past 30 years, guests had an opportunity to tackle the new sidecar driving skills test. Using one of Watsonian’s demonstrator sidecar outfits, contestants had to tackle several challenges, including knocking a tennis ball from a post into a bucket by nudging it in using the bike’s front wheel!
Other guests at the event included the Chester Belter London Leatherworks, a new business designing handmade leather pieces using traditional skills, and automotive artist Martin Squires, who could be found sketching the more eye-catching bikes and sidecars in the car park. Motorcycle author and world traveller Gordon May also made a welcome return.
Local produce featured prominently at this year’s open weekend; there was freshly cooked food from an award-winning Worcestershire butcher and hand-made treats created by the Cotswold Chocolate Company from nearby Stow-on-the-Wold.
Prizes were awarded on both days for the best sidecar outfit and solo motorcycle ridden to the event, won on Saturday by a 1938 J-series Royal Enfield paired with a contemporary sidecar that had travelled from Buckingham.