Deaf Travel1st February 2014

Ace Cafe

The world renowned Ace Cafe in London has attracted a wide range of visitors from around the world.

by Dafydd Eveleigh

If you are in to the motorbike scene, the Ace Cafe in London is one of the most famous cafe meeting places in the world. Steeped in history, on the Ace Cafe website it says:

"At Ace Cafe London we welcome all who share our passion, based upon the traditions of motorcycles, cars and rock 'n' roll."

​With a long established welcoming attitude, the Ace Cafe attracts people from all over the world and from different backgrounds.  Deaf Bikers UK is a motorcycle club that holds a monthly meet at the cafe on the first Sunday of each month but it's not just motorcyclists who meet there. The Ace Cafe hosts both regular and one-off car meets, making it a popular venue for all types of "petrol heads".

The History

The Ace Cafe was established in November 1938, when it was built as a roadside pit-stop for hauliers and people travelling around London. As you can see in the photo, the cafe was next door to a petrol station, with a car wash, motor repair workshop and car showroom.  Unfortunately, during World War II the cafe was bombed and completely destroyed.  A temporary building was erected, while the buildings attached to the garage became a factory to support the war effort.

In 1949, the cafe was rebuilt to Streamline Moderne style and is pretty much the same building that we see today.  At that time, it was a state-of-the-art eatery providing homemade quality food.

During the 1960's and being open 24 hours, it became a popular meeting place for rock 'n' roll stars and musicians, who would pop in on their way home from a late night gig. It also became the place where hordes of young motorcyclists met.  However, due to the mix of motorcycles, rock n' roll and boisterous teenagers, many of these cafe's gained a reputation for being places where "respectable" people wouldn't go.

From the advent of the Mini in 1959, and increasingly through the 1960's, the private ownership of cars dramatically increased and as a consequence of an evident demand for tyres, the cafe closed in 1969 and became a tyre sales and fitting depot.

In 1993, Mark Wilsmore started planning to resurrect the Ace, with the support of the motorcycling community and beyond.  In September 2001, the cafe re-opened its doors and the rest as they say, is history.  The picture shows the premises today, just a stones throw from the famous Wembley Stadium.

International Fame

Ace Cafe London's notoriety is far reaching, such that many famous people have also visited, including Ewan McGregor and Richard Wilson (pictured). James May from Top Gear is also a patron.


Many international visitors have stepped off a plane at Heathrow and traveled straight to the Ace and many motorcyclists end their epic journeys there. In 2013, two guys arrived on a Royal Enfield that they had ridden from India, following the medieval Silk Routes, traversing 19 countries and clocking up 12,300 kilometres, in aid of Save the Children.  On another occasion, 4 guys riding scooters who had hit the road eight months previously in South Africa in aid of the Red Cross Children's Hospice in Cape Town, ended their journey with a welcome British fry up!

Ace Cafe on TV and Films

For film buffs and TV fans, the Ace has featured in many films and TV programmes; far too many to mention them all, but here is a short list:

  • Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear visited to filmed Car Night for the show
  • The Leather Boys, a classic 60's film, starring Rita Tushingham, with Ace patrons used as extras
  • Channel 5's 5th Gear was presented from the cafe
  • Police Camera Action has used the cafe for filming
  • Foreign film makers have also used the cafe for various programs

The Food and the Music

Today the cafe provides good quality comfort food, is fully licensed and on occasional Saturday evenings with room to dance, converts to being a paid entry nightclub with live music until 2 am.  It also offers free to attend music nights with DJ's playing Rock n' Roll, Motown, Reggae, Rock Steady and Soul. I would definitely suggest giving the Ace Cafe a visit if you are in London.


In addition to the above, the Ace also organises the annual Ace Cafe Reunion and Brighton Burn Up, a three-day event in September which attracts thousands of people to the cafe and Brighton (the photo shows Brighton's Madeira Drive packed with motorcycles). This year is the 21st Ace Cafe Reunion and best of's free!

As mentioned earlier, it's not all about motorcycles; on Saturday 26th April, the cafe also puts on 'InCarNation' Brighton, with cars of all marques showcased on the seafront.

For more information about any of these events, check out the Ace Cafe London website for details

The Competition

Ace Cafe London is legendary in British motoring culture and this excellent book provides the history of the cafe and a unique insight into those times in general. The book retails at £29.99, but you can get it for free and signed by the founder and Managing Director Mark Wilsmore.

All you need to do is take a photo of a motorcycle. The winner who sends the best picture will receive a free copy of the book.

The Rules

  • You must own the copyright of the photo.
  • The Motorcycle can be your own motorcycle or someone else's.
  • Please include the date and where the photograph was taken.
  • Send the photo by email to

Photos provided with kind permission from Ace Cafe London Archive &
Photos remain the copyright of Ace Cafe London Archive &

Article by Dafydd Eveleigh

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Deaf Travel

1st February 2014