The Ace Cafe
A Potted History


1938
The birth of the Ace
1938
The establishment
of The Ace Cafe
The Ace Cafe was established in 1938 on the then brand new North Circular Road surrounding London. It was a simple roadside Cafe catering to travelers, particularly truckers. With its proximity to Britain’s fast arterial road network, and being open 24 hours, the Ace Cafe soon attracted motorcyclists too.
1939
Once the cafe was established, the owner’s thoughts turned to the motor trade. In 1939 he opened a service station with a battery of 8 pumps on adjoining land, …
…  with a spacious washing bay, showroom and repair shop.

1940
Ace Cafe demolished
1940
The Ace Cafe demolished
in air raid
In world war two, the building was badly damaged during an air raid on the adjacent railway marshalling yards.
Short after the air raid bomb during the blitz in November 1940, the Ace Cafe operated in a temporary building shown here in 1945.

1949
The re-opening of the Ace & the Heydays
1949
The rebuilt Ace Cafe & the Heydays
After the war the Ace Cafe was reopened in temporary accommodation and subsequently rebuilt in 1949.
Long before its’ ‘greasy spoon’ tag, the following set of pictures capture just what a state-of-the-art cafe/restaurant it was, with home-made food being prepared and cooked on the premises.
1953
Celebrating the Coronation of H. M. the Queen, Elizabeth II
1955 – 1965
The post-war increase in road traffic and advent of the “teenage” phenomena saw the Ace booming, and with it, the arrival of the “Ton-Up-Boys”. The British motorcycle industry was at its peak, and along came Rock ´n´ Roll. Not played on radio stations, initially the only place it could be heard was at fairgrounds or on jukeboxes at transport cafes.
It became the place to meet, have a meal or cup of tea,
arrange runs (often to other cafes or the coast)
or simply to mend your bike.
People came to listen to the jukebox, many subsequently
starting bands or clubs. Some gaining success
and considerable reputation.
From this powerful fusion of motorbikes and Rock ´n´ Roll came the legends of record-racing, “drop the coin right into the slot”, and race to a given point and back before the record finished.
The Ace Cafe, as the birthplace of a new breed of motor bikes – the Cafe Racer – and with its combination of motorbikes, speed and Rock ´n´ Roll was the launchpad for many famous racers and for many bands.
The famous 59 CLUB was essentially born there, when Father Bill Shergold, a motorcyclist, visited the Ace Cafe and then invited the youths to his church and club. This club then grew into the largest motorbike club in the world.
The tabloid press carried many articles portraying cafes as the places where decent people didn´t go.
….and WHAT a reputation…..!

1969
The Closure
1969
The Ace Cafe had closed its doors
Changes in the social order, the growth of the car market at the expense of the motorbike industry, and the expansion of the motorway network saw the Ace Cafe serving its last egg and chips in 1969.
The building has been used as a cafe, filling station, bookmakers office and latterely a tyre depot. It remains however, largely unaltered.
The legend of the Ace Cafe lives on in the minds of those who went there, those who wish they went there and those too young to have been there.

1994
The Ace Cafe Reunion
1994
The Ace Cafe Reunion was born
The Ace Cafe Reunion is the brainchild of Mark Wilsmore. In 1993 he shared his ideas for an annual event to mark the closure of the original Ace Cafe, a book and film, documenting the history of the Ace Cafe and endeavouring to ensure that the original Ace Cafe re-opened, with relevant products being available.
 
To mark the 25th anniversary of the cafe’s closure, Mark, with friends, formed the organising team for the Reunion and arranged for motorcycle runs to converge at the former Ace Cafe site on Sunday 4th September 1994.
The idea was well received by motorcycling organisations and clubs. Media support was sought and the event turned into a major free motorcycle and Rock ´n´ Roll event. It was estimated that over 12000 people gathered at the old cafe site.
1996
The following annual Reunions, known as “Ace Days”, took place on historic ground: Brighton’s famous Madeira Drive.
With the Grand Opening of the original London premises, the Ace Cafe Reunion Weekend has developed into the critically acclaimed ‘world´s coolest motorbike event‘…
attracting every September tens of thousands of Riders partaking in the Brighton Burn Up Run from the Ace Cafe to gather for a free to attend motorbike and rock ‘n roll party on Madeira Drive.

1997
The Return of an Icon
1997
A part of the original Ace Cafe opened
We can do it now!
We got the planning permission, and ACE CAFE LONDON bought the original Ace Cafe site. As from December 7th 1997, a part of the original and legendary Ace Cafe site was re-opened on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays and on the first Wednesday of every month.
The riders enjoying themselves whilst having a a cup of tea or coffee and exchanging the latest news and gossip from the biking world. The Sunday openings have been enthusiastically received and the plans to re-open the complete site are being pursued.
Every type and style of bikes have turned out, representing an impressive kaleidoscope from the fifties to the nineties. The refreshments are served up by Bob and his crew.
Rumble Down The Ace
On 6th March 1999 a main London water supply pipe had burst approximately 10 feet underground the Ace Cafe forecourt. Bikes were flung into the air, disappearing in the torrent as they landed. The foaming white jet of water pitched tarmac, earth and rocks in all directions breaking windows and showering the building with assorted debris. Mark dashed back to check that everyone had got out safely, but some had run outside to rescue their bikes. By this time the water was coming through the door. The emergency services were called. Meanwhile, the water found a natural course onto the new North Circular Road underpass at the A406 Park Royal Estate junction, which became flooded to a height of over 25 feet.
Shame it wasn´t summer because we could surf with the Rockers…..
This newspaper picture from the Evening Standard showing the extent of the area exposed to the incident. We would like to take the opportunity to thank all our patrons and others for their good wishes and kind offers of help and apologise for any inconvenience. As BLONDIE sang “The tide is high but we´re holding on……..”

2001
The Grand Opening
2001
The Ace is back!
The Grand Re-Opening
Today we´ve made it – and the Ace Cafe is alive and kicking.
No – it´s not 1964, welcome back Ace Cafe!

2011
Opening of
Ace Corner Finland
2011
Ace Corner Lahti
On the weekend from 10th to 12th June 2011 the all new Ace Corner Finland in Lahti celebrated its Grand Opening.

2013
Ace 75th Anniversary
2013
Ace 75th Anniversary
The 75th Anniversary
Ace Cafe London 75th Anniversary…

2015
Opening of
Ace Cafe Luzern and Ace Cafe Beijing
2015
Ace Cafe Luzern
On the weekend from 19th to 21st June 2015 the all new Ace Cafe Luzern celebrated its Grand Opening.
Ace Cafe Luzern Grand Opening June 2015

2015
Ace Cafe Beijing
On Sunday 12th July 2015 the all new Ace Cafe Beijing celebrated its Grand Opening.

2017
Opening of
Ace Cafe Barcelona and Ace Cafe Orlando
2017
Ace Cafe Barcelona
On the weekend from 21st to 23rd April 2017 the all new Ace Cafe Barcelona celebrated its Grand Opening.
Ace Cafe Barcelona Grand Opening April 2017

2017
Ace Cafe Orlando
In May 2017 the all new Ace Cafe Orlando celebrated its Grand Opening.

to be continued