A Folding Motorcycle Designed For WWII Commandos


The Brockhouse Corgi is the civilian version of the Welbike, a small folding motorcycle developed during WWII to be air-dropped behind enemy lines with commandos, to provide them with a means of transport.

The Welbike was designed to be folded down and rolled into a torpedo-shaped tube which would be dropped by parachute. Once on the ground it would be unfolded, the engine would be started, and soldiers could use them to cover far more ground than they could on foot.

Fast Facts – The Brockhouse Corgi

  • The Brockhouse Corgi is closely based on the Welbike, a small folding motorcycle developed for use by British Special Forces soldiers during the Second World War.
  • The unusual shape of the Corgi, and the Welbike it’s based on, was caused by the fact that it needed to fold down and fit into a CLE Canister to be parachute dropped.
  • The Welbike was designed so that it could be removed from the canister, unfolded, started, and ridden away in 11 seconds or less by a skilled operator.
  • Both the Brockhouse Corgi and the Welbike are powered by a Villiers 98cc single-cylinder two-stroke petrol engine, it has a single rear drum brake, and power is sent to the rear wheel via a chain drive.

The Welbike – A Minibike For British Commandos

Wars are often times of rapid technological development and innovation, the Welbike was one of these technological innovations and it would prove highly influential, major manufacturers would be building folding scooters inspired by the Welbike well into the 1980s and beyond.

Welbike Folding Motorcycle

Image DescriptionThese images show the Welbike as well as how it folds down and fits into the CLE Canister for parachute deployment.

The Welbike was one of these innovations, it was developed by a British motorcycle enthusiast named Harry Lester, based on an idea from Lt. Colonel John Dolphin – the Commanding Officer of Station IX, the secret Inter-Services Military Research Establishment.

With its simple tubular steel frame, 98cc single-cylinder two-stroke push-start engine, and low kerb weight, the Welbike was used both by commandos and as airbase transport for regular soldiers and airmen throughout the war.

Station IX – The Real Life Q Branch From James Bond

Station IX was essentially a real world version of James Bond’s Q Branch, and may have been part of Ian Fleming’s inspiration for creating both Q and Q Branch (later called Q Division). Station IX was based in a mansion called “The Frythe” located an hour’s drive north of London, near the town of Welwyn.

Brockhouse Corgi Motorcycle 1

Image DescriptionOver 27,000 examples of the Brockhouse Corgi were made, they fulfilled much the same market niche as scooters from companies like Vespa and Lambretta.

Inventions from Station IX would mostly be given the prefix “Wel” has a hat tip to Welwyn, where many of the station’s staff spent their time off.

Among the many inventions to come out of Station IX were:

  • The Welrod: A simple pistol with a suppressor design for assassinations.
  • The Welman Submarine: A one-man British midget submarine designed for commando attacks against enemy vessels.
  • The Welbike: A small folding motorcycle designed to be air-dropped for use by paratroopers.
  • The Welbum: An electrically powered device with a propeller that would allow paratroopers to be dropped up to two miles off shore and then motor silently into the beach through the water.
  • The Welfreighter: A small submarine designed to carry gear and equipment to resupply agents behind enemy lines.
  • The Sleeve Gun: A simple device that attached to the forearm concealing a small gun under the sleeve of a coat or jacket. When deployed the gun would extend out of the gadget so that the user can grab it and fire.

The Brockhouse Corgi

The Brockhouse Corgi was developed on the Welbike platform immediately after WWII.

Brockhouse Corgi Motorcycle 2

Image DescriptionCompared to the Welbike, the Corgi has thicker, stronger frame tubes, a larger fuel tank, a more comfortable saddle, and later Mark II versions got rear mud guards and kickstarters.

A number of modifications were made to the Welbike to make it better suited to regular civilian use, the frame was made stronger and heavier as weight was no longer an issue, a larger fuel tank was fitted, and the second generation version of the Corgi (known as the Mark II), was given a kickstarter and a rear mud guard.

A version of the Corgi was produced for Indian Motorcycles in the United States, it was finished with dark maroon paintwork and called the Indian Papoose.

The Brockhouse Corgi would remain in production from 1946 until 1954 with over 27,000 made in total. The scooter was cheap to buy and run, and it used very little fuel which made it ideal for use in post-WWII Britain given the supply shortages and austerity that defined the era.

There is a Brockhouse Corgi club open to members from around the world, the club is dedicated to keeping the Corgi in production for decades to come.

The Corgi you see here was fully restored in 2019 by a Corgi enthusiast, it’s listed as running and riding very well, and it’s road registered in the United Kingdom.

The price guide is $2,000 – $3,360 USD and you can click here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.

Brockhouse Corgi Motorcycle 9
Brockhouse Corgi Motorcycle 8
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Images courtesy of H&H Classics

Brockhouse Corgi Motorcycle


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