The Welbike

This is an interesting standalone exhibit in one of the outbuildings on the Beaulieu estate (site of the National Motor Museum) in the New Forest.

It’s a Welbike – a small, parachuteable, motorbike designed for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in WW2.

As the blurb in the background says, it was designed at the SOE’s Station IX secret factory in Welwyn Garden City, hence the ‘Wel’ prefix. Now you know where the Welrod (assasination pistol) and Welman (mini sub) were designed too!

The 3.7L petrol tank and 97cc engine gave it a range of 90 miles at 30mph. Unfortunately its 32-kilo weight meant that it wasn’t so good for parachute drops – the difference in weight caused the parachutist & bike to land some distance apart – but they came into their own when used by Royal Marine commandos at beach landings.

Although I remember using a little Di Blasi fold-up motorcycle from a yacht and it was a real struggle lifting it out of the locker and getting it ashore.  I guess the Royal Marine Commandos were probably a bit tougher than me!

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