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.
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.
To keep up to date with all the latest breaking news, stories and events happening across West London, give the My West London Facebook page a like.
We will provide you with the latest traffic and travel updates, including updates on train and London Underground services, in areas including Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith, Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Uxbridge and Richmond upon Thames.
The latest breaking news will be brought straight to your news feed including updates from the police, ambulance and fire brigade. We will also bring you updates from our courts and councils, as well as more lighthearted long reads.
We also publish your pictures and videos, so do message us with your stories.
Like the My West London Facebook page here.
You can also follow us on Twitter here.
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.
Here at MyLondon, we’re doing our very best to make sure you get the latest news, reviews and features from your area.
Now there’s a way you can keep up to date with the areas that matter to you with our free email newsletter.
The West London newsletter goes out twice day – at 7am and 4pm – and sends you the latest stories straight to your inbox.
From Hillingdon to Harrow, Southall to South Kensington, we’ll make sure you get the very best every day.
To sign up to the West London newsletter, simply follow this link and select the newsletter that’s right for you.
And to really customise your news experience on the go, you can download our top-rated free apps for iPhone and Android. Find out more here.