London’s bikers’ favourite cafe where you can see Harley Davidsons galore

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If you found yourself driving along Ace Corner of the North Circular on a Saturday night before the Covid-19 pandemic, you’d likely see scores of bikers in leather jackets massed outside a famous landmark.

Ace Cafe is more than just one of the most popular watering hole for bikers in the UK, it’s part of the country’s history.

The cafe opened more than 80 years ago in 1938 to accommodate travellers on the newly built North Circular Road.

Open 24 hours a day, it attracted motorcyclists in the evenings and on weekends and became a popular hang out spot for leather-clad riders.

Unfortunately for Ace Cafe and the many bikers who called it their second home, it was destroyed in an air strike during the Second World War.

The air raid on a nearby Willesden marshalling yard ended up damaging the cafe, forcing it to close.

As resilient and tough as you’d expect a biker hangout to be, Ace Cafe rebuilt after the airstrike and reopened just under a decade later in 1949 – and you could say it was perfect timing.

With the post-war popularity of rock n’ roll music, rise in pop culture and booming biking industry, teenagers wanted a place to hang out and hear their favourite songs on the jukebox.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Ace Cafe was the place to be on weekends and evenings if you were a biker, and was where famous biking subcultures like the Ton-Up Boys and Rockers made their presence felt.

Bikers have met at London’s Ace Cafe for more than 80 years

But in 1969, Ace Cafe closed again, pressured by the expanding motorway network and the growth of the car industry.

If a World War had failed to stop Ace Cafe, it’s hard to believe anything else could keep it down forever.

Some 25 years later in 1994, Mark Wilsmore, the current managing director, had the idea to host a reunion that saw friends and fans of the cafe start a motorcycle run that ended at the site of the original site.

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That lit the flames for a full return of Ace Cafe and after buying the original building and getting planning permission in 1997, the wheels were in motion (no pun intended) to get the venue up and running again.

In 2001 there was a grand (re)opening and Ace Cafe is still going today, though it’s no longer open 24 hours. Covid-19 lockdown restrictions aside, there are regular biker meets and events for classic car owners.

The spirit of the cafe is still very much alive as a Mecca for petrolheads across the UK.

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About Craig Ballantyne 22909 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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