ACE CAFÉ TON UP DAY - SUNDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 2007
Originally built in 1938 as a roadside cafe to cater for traffic, particularly hauliers, using the new North Circular road, the Ace’s proximity to the fast arterial road network and the fact it was open 24 hours, soon attracted motorcyclists. In World War 2 the building was badly damaged during an air raid on the adjacent railway marshalling yards. That led to the cafe reopening in temporary accommodation and it’s subsequent rebuilding in 1949.
With the post-war increase in road traffic and the 'teenage' phenomena, the Ace was booming. The British motorcycle industry was at its peak, then along came rock n roll, which initially could only be heard at fairgrounds or on jukeboxes at transport cafes and with it, the arrival of the 'ton-up-boys'.
From this powerful fusion of motorbikes and rock n roll came the legends of record-racing -"drop the coin right into the slot" and race to a given point and back before the record finished. Those that reached the ton, (100mph), could park their bikes outside the front of the cafe. The tabloid press carried many articles portraying cafes as the place where decent people didn’t go! These thrill seeking youths became known as Rockers.
Sunday 18th November 2007 -some 50 years later.
Whilst wandering up the stairs at the Ace, taking various photos, I homed in on an old picture of one particular guy I'd read about in the past. The wonderfully named Barry Cheese. I decided to venture outside and take a nostalgic trip up the original North Circular, taking snaps of the route including the archways that they used to race under. If Barry wasn't witnessing countless escapades then he was part of the mischief. He even managed to land himself in court on one occasion.
Ton Up Day is a celebration of those heady early days. A chance for the surviving originals to relive their memories & for newcomers like myself to learn what it was all about. How I wish I could have been there.
A few hours later I was introduced to one of the original Ace Café rockers.
Mr Barry Cheese. Fate?