Bike club rocks

Join the 59 club and be in­spired to ride

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Char­lie Lester

Started as a youth club in 1959 (hence the name), the 59 club re­ally took off when one of its co-or­di­na­tors, avid mo­tor­cy­clist Fa­ther Bill Shergold, looked at the biker masses on the streets and won­dered how to reach them. In 1962 he plucked up the courage to ride his Tri­umph over to the Ace Café, and in­vited the shout­ing, laugh­ing, leather-clad rock­ers to a church ser­vice, of­fer­ing to bless their bikes at the al­tar. The ser­vice was packed and word quickly spread, so that by 1963 the youth club el­e­ment had ended and the bike club was in full swing.

“In those days bik­ers were seen as dan­ger­ous hooli­gans; you weren’t wel­come at pubs, cof­fee bars… any­where, re­ally,” says Dick Ben­nett, one of the club’s man­agers and mem­ber for nearly 50 years. “The club was some­where you could take your bike and meet your mates. The re­li­gious el­e­ment was only in the fact that we’ve al­ways had a rev­erend as chair­man and met on church premises – but we’ve al­ways been in­clu­sive.

“Now in­ter­est in rock and roll, café rac­ers and clas­sics has got fash­ion­able, we’ve got mem­bers all over the world, with sec­tions opened up in France and Spain and a huge Ja­panese fol­low­ing. We’ve had to get a trade­mark and have teamed up with the Ace Café who han­dle our mem­ber­ship and mem­o­ra­bilia so we can deal with run­ning the club.

“But one thing we’ve had to push with sec­tions in other coun­tries is the spirit of the 59. They’ve tried to fo­cus on clas­sics and cer­tain sec­tions of mo­tor­cy­cling, but that’s not us. It doesn’t mat­ter what you wear or what you come down on. The youth club way back in ’59 had guys turn­ing up on mopeds – you rode what you could af­ford! We have dyed-in-the-wool rock­ers and fam­i­lies with kids read­ing mags and talk­ing ma­chin­ery. It was Fa­ther Bill who per­formed the cer­e­mony to marry my wife and me, and also chris­tened our daugh­ter Har­riet, who now rides an MV 312RR and is more into bikes than I am! The fam­ily el­e­ment has kept us go­ing; it’s all run by vol­un­teers, who set up at our Plais­tow premises twice a week to up­hold the whole point of the club

that’s been run­ning for over 50 years now – some­where that peo­ple who love bikes are al­ways wel­come.’

‘Now café rac­ers are fash­ion­able, we’ve got mem­bers all over the world’

Fa­ther Bill gave his fel­low rid­ers a place to go when they'd been so­cial out­casts

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