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Ace Cafe - London

Established in 1938 on the then brand new North Circular Road surrounding London the Ace Cafe was a service area. As well as petrol it also had what is believed to be the first automatic car wash in the UK.

With its proximity to Britain’s fast arterial road network, and being open 24 hours, the Ace Cafe soon attracted motorcyclists too. In the 50s and 60s it was at the centre of the 'Rockers", "Ton Up" motorcycle era.


Region:
London
Red Wheel Site:
Yes
Transport Mode(s):
Road
Address:

Ace Corner,

North Circular Road

Stonebridge

Postcode:
NW10 7UD
Visitor Centre:
Yes
Website:

About Ace Cafe - London

1938

The Ace Cafe was established in 1938. It was a service area for the then new North Circular Road surrounding London. As well as petrol it also had what is believed to be the first automatic car wash in the UK.

The simple roadside Cafe catered for 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.

Ace Cafe 1938

 

1940

In world war two, the building was badly damaged during an air raid on the adjacent railway marshalling yards.

bomb damage

 

1945

After the war the Ace Cafe was reopened in temporary accommodation

Ace Cafe 1945

and subsequently rebuilt in 1949 alongside the Ace service garage

Ace cafe 1949

shown here decorated for Queen Elizathbeth II coronation in 1953

Ace Service Garage and Cafe 1953

 

1950's and 1960's

The Cafe's heyday - a busy transport cafe it became a noted location for young motorcyclists. They enjoyed the freedom of riding on two wheels with a dash of the rebel!

The 59 Club

Nationwide publicity was achieved when motorcyclist, the Rev Bill Shergold, who was co-founder of the local church youth club, approached the bikers at the Ace and was astounded at the positive response. Many attended the services at what became the 59 Club and even brought their bikes to be blessed!

busy counter serving refreshments

 

 

"Ton up" bikers

 

1969

British motorcycle sales peaked in 1959 and as car sales, like the Mini, saw a lot of young folk switch to 4 wheels and that together with the growth of the motorway network saw business at the Ace decline and it closed in 1969.

 

Cafe closes 1969

 

1993/4

The Ace Cafe Reunion was 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. 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.

Reunion at closed cafe in 1994

 

1997 A part of the original Ace Café re-opens.

Ace Cafe London bought the original Ace Cafe site. In December 1997, a part of the original Ace Cafe site was re-opened on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays and on the first Wednesday of every month.

part of Ace cafe re-opens

2001 – Grand re-opening following complete refurbishment

Ace cafe reopens

2013 -  75th Anniversary

Ace cafe 75th anniversary

 

Since then a full programme of events has seen the Ace holding events virtually every day, not only for motorcycles but for all vehicles, including scooters! It also has two chargers for electric vehicles.

The popularity has been recognized internationally with franchised Cafe’s opening around the world.

Photos and text courtesy of Mark Wilsmore, Ace London web site.

Additional text from Keith Gibbons.

 

BY ROAD:
Travelling anticlockwise on the North Circular Road: After the traffic lights at Brentfield Road (where you’ll see Ikea and McDonald’s) take the second exit. Turn right, then right again onto the old North Circular Road. The Ace is 100 yards on the left. Travelling clockwise on the North Circular Road: Take the first exit after Hanger Lane and continue going northeast up the old North Circular Road. The Ace is 800 yards on the left, or take the second exit, turn left, then turn right onto the old North Circular Road. 100 yards to the Ace.

 

BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
By British Rail (from Euston) or London Underground (Bakerloo Line): From Stonebridge Park Station, turn right and walk down to the North Circular Road, then right again along the old North Circular Road. The Ace is 100 yards on your right. By Bus: Buses 112, 224 and 440 all stop in front of the Ace, or take Bus 18, N18 or 611 to Stonebridge Park Station.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2019 The Transport Trust. All rights reserved. The Transport Trust is a registered UK charity No. 280943 Registered address: First Floor, 26 Station Approach,Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey, KT10 0SR. Registered in England No. 1509733.