Origins | Ace Cafe KL

The original


The Ace Cafe opened on 21st October 1938, as a road side cafe to cater for traffic using the then new North Circular Road.

Once established, the owner’s thoughts turned to the motor trade and in August 1939, a service station was opened on the adjoining land.

This lead to him becoming a stockist for Austin, Standard, Triumph, Daimler and Lanchester, as well as being appointed a distributor for Citroen. The showroom should accommodate 25 vechicles.

Ace Service Station featured eight petrol pumps, all catering for different brands. During the war period the pumps provided an all-night-service.

‘Washmobile’ believed to be the first automatic car wash in the UK.

The young businessman and entrepreneur Vic Edenborough, founder and owner of the Ace, pictured in front of the service station with his car and dogs.

Torn apart


On 16th November 1940, the cafe received a direct bit from a bomb during the blitz of London in WWII and was completely destroyed.

The clock on the building appears to show that this occurred at 4.30 . The most likely target was probably the seven nearby railway bridges serving the main line routes north out of London. Apparently no one was killed or injured.

In 1943, urged by patriotic motives, the owner erected new buildings with machine tools installed. The facility employed 120 people, specialising in the machining of high tensile steel components for aircraft.

By 1944 the Ace Service Station operated engineering shops reputed to be the finest of their size in the country. After the war the machine shop closed and once again the dynamic founder of the business had the car showrooms redesigned with new plant equipment.

Temporary building


With building materials being rationed during the war, a temporary cafe, made of prefabricated concrete was erected. It only operated until 1948, but it kept the cafe going.

This ‘missing link’ photograph is a still from a twenty minute film ‘Routine Job’, made in 1945 about the work of the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad.

Newly rebuilt

Opened in 1948 of a style known as ‘Streamline Modern’, the newly built single story cafe was all electric and one of the first to have neon signage.

It was a state-of-the-art establishment, with commensurate kitchen equipment, where staff cooked home-made bread, cakes and pastries.


Then extended


The increasing traffic on the North Circular Road and the rise of ‘cafe culture’ was such that the Ace soon needed an extension to the restaurant and the addition of a first floor.

The photograph, which shows net curtains at the restaurant windows, was taken from the top of the rubbish dump, then opposite the cafe, containing much of the wartime rubble.

and finally…

Changes in social behavior and growth of car ownership and the motorway network led to the closure of the cafe in 1969.

A ‘Grand Reopening’ took place thirty-two years later in September 2001.

The cafe today is a 21st century fully licensed cafe-restaurant and music venue. Catering for all who share the passion, the cafe hosts a wide array of vehicle meets, from Ton Up Day through to Hot Rod Night.


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