‘I realised the following year was 25 years since it closed. Reunion!’
Mark Wilsmore is responsible for bringing the Ace Cafe back to life
“I’m 59-years-old, which puts me smack in the 1970s 250cc L-plate generation. It also puts me in the age group which, as a kid in the ’60s, can vividly recall the Mods and Rockers.
“One day, I realised that bikers had no home and just along from where I was living was the Ace Cafe. It was a place with a fantastic history, but it was being used as a tyre depot.
“Over time, I’ve become something of a master organiser. At the tail end of ’93, a dear friend of mine at the Triumph Owners’ Motor Cycle Club said ‘do you know when the Ace shut?’ I didn’t have a clue! It was when he said September ’69 that I realised the following year was 25 years since the Ace Cafe closed. That’s when the lightbulb went off. Reunion! “From that point, it was how to do it, rather than shall we do it. The first Reunion was in ’94 and the thousands of people that turned up proved I wasn’t mad. I applied for planning permission to reopen the cafe and spoke to the site owners to get hold of it. “It was around 1997 that we got permission to reopen. In 1996 I came out of the police and bought the freehold. The tyre place didn’t operate on Sundays, so we opened a burger van in a small, empty part of the building on that day. “From the moment that started, it proved to be immensely popular. Full refurbishment of the Cafe began in January 2001 and it was functioning by August – just in time for the Ace Cafe Reunion.”
Thousands of people turned up to the first Ace reunion MARK WILSMORE
The Reunion takes three days and is an annual event
depot Mark stands outside the tyre Ace that he turned back into the