Bikers pay homage to age of honour, speed and Brylcreem: Thousands return to the Ace Cafe, the mecca for motorcyclists in the Fifties and Sixties, which closed 25 years ago. Charles Oulton reports
Monday 05 September 1994
By 1969, however, that innocence had disappeared; drug addicts had taken over, an era was at an end, and the cafe was closed. To mark the closure's 25th anniversary, bikers from around the country (and some from overseas) yesterday put on their leathers again and returned to the scene.
Much has changed. The cafe, an ordinary enough looking building then to the uninitiated but magical to those under its thrall, is now a warehouse piled high with tyres. A bathetic end to one of the most talked about centres of London life at that time.
But the memories remain. As thousands of bikers paid their respects, the talk was of the good old days - the victory over the truckers (who never again dared show their faces at the cafe after dawn); the challenge of racing your bike along the North Circular to the Hanger Lane roundabout and back to the cafe before the record on the jukebox came to an end; the endless games of pinball, the helmets lovingly perched on the shelf, the pies and chips and mugs of tea.
And then there were the sad moments, the numerous deaths of bikers for whom the Hanger Lane challenge proved too much. But then that was part of the lure of the place: it was fraught with danger and irresponsibility, but there was a sense of purpose, and a code of honour too. They remembered how they used to carry blood for the hospitals, how they acted as outriders for lorry drivers who got themselves lost, and how they made sure that the only people they harmed were themselves. If the cafe was open today, the bikers' behaviour would no doubt have been deplored. But it isn't, so there was nothing but applause.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...