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.
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford plane crash: Star Wars actor 'seriously injured' after light aircraft crash lands
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are going through an excitin...
£37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...