Monday, February 8, 2010

The Busy Bee Cafe



Cafe racers all know about The Ace Cafe, but an equally popular 1950s hangout was just down the road at the Watford Bypass called The Busy Bee Cafe. And unrelated to anyone but Her Majesty's Thunder, it's about 3 miles from Elstree Studios, where the original Star Wars movies were filmed.

On the website you can read neat first-hand accounts by biker patrons of The Busy Bee as well as a thorough history of the place as told by Peter Mayne, who was employed at the cafe for 32 years. Here's a snippet:

"The order of the day was meet at the Bee, coffee, and when there was enough of you, a quick blast down to the Ace, more coffee, and back to the Bee, game over! Week ends and Bank holidays, meet at the Bee, wait until there was about 50 bikes then down to Southend in one big crowd. Or of course, it could be Margate or even Brighton or anywhere those pesky little Mods and their scooters could be 'mashed'."

Lots of great historical photos on the site as well. There's even a Busy Bee Motorcycle Club.




You can see the illuminated Bee in the background of these photos.


10 comments:

  1. Wonder how young women managed to get jeans that tight before the invention of stretchable materials. Great shot.

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    1. Denim shrank in those days. You'd bury the jeans then sit in a bath of cold water until they were like a second skin.
      An Old Rocker

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  2. When I was a kid my parents used to go past the busy bee on the way to my nan's in hemel hempstead. I was about 9 years old, and always loved to look at the mass of black leather jackets in the Bee. The day I turned 16 I went to a motorcycle shop in Burnt Oak and got a 650cc BSA super rocket with a sidecar,as you could ride it on L plates. The first place I went was the Bee. I spent most of my evenings there, does anyone remember the time a Mod on a scooter pulled in and broke down, he had to leave it in the car park over night, The next day he came back for it only to find it in about 200 bits all over the car park and laid out neatly!!I went on to join the 59 club at Paddington and knew Father Bill well. I'm now 61 years old and have just sold my Corvette Stingray, I've just grown up, thanks for reading, Regards, Bob Hibbit, now living in Wimborne Dorset

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    1. I remember that incident well, and as I remember, part of the scooter was left in the Gents toilet. I have just decided on a late life crisis, and have built a Trike, and cannot believe how many of my generation are running around on bikes. My era was 1964 onwards, until I married (A mod), I don't know how that happened, but it has worked for well over forty years. I will be over to see the Busy Bee Club, as its a nice run out from where I am located. Look forward to a nice night out.

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  3. Yes Bob I remember that in fact I may have been one of those who help to dismantle it with help of a friend I was 13 or 14 at the time. We were always around the Bee do to the fact that my Father was working on the new Bypass that was being built at the time and we lived on the caravan site just at back of the busy bee car park. We was always at the bee or if not we were messing about at Pollards Scrap yard next door which belong to my friends father We were their when they were filming Alfie when they closed the cafe and put up a tent at the back. At 13-14 years of age the Rockers were our Heros and the Busy Bee was pure Magic.If anyone remembers us please put up post.

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  4. The picture of the boy on the Triumph posing next to the Busy Bee sign,is Colin Grant,who lived near Rickmansworth,about five miles from the Bee,Colin went on to race bikes,Triumph/Nortons and Spanish Bultacos on most home circuits and the Isle of Man.He still has his 1959 Bonneville,collects juke boxes,now lives in Selsey on the south coast,There will only ever be one Busy Bee.

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  5. what memories the busy bee brings , me on my arrow graham bowel on his t100, dave trowel on his 5ta, and twins i believe they were bruce and mick melville, we had a group of about 12 bikes meet up at pinks of harrow of an evening and tear off to the bee and spoend wonderful evenings there in good company , i rember one winter evening entering that traffic island to fast in the frosty weather and coming off, within seconds dozens of rockers were on the scene picked me and the bike up and bought me a cup of tea, wonderful lads who i hope like me made it to retirement as i know a lot of my mates didnt, my period was 1961- 1964, now live in cornwall and still have a motorcycle at 67, hope some one remembers me, barry collins . {baz }

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    1. Hello Barry,

      I remenber you well. You might still ride a bike but do you still dance? I remember The Bee too! Sadly one night Paul McGovern was killed when he was pushing his bike toward the Bee as it had broken down. He got hit by a lorry. David is alive and well living in Devon but not riding a bike!

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  6. Wow, I just found this site, Palladin's blog and the Ace site. Brings back so many memories.

    We used to go to the Bee almost every night in '63 on a pair of Ariel (Golden) Arrows. Not 'real bikes' we were told, but I've always been one for a bit of style over substance!

    Palladin's trip to the Dragon Rally reminded me of our two rides there. It was always bloody freezing! I've still got the Dragon pin, somewhere.

    It's a shame the Bee disappeared, but at least the Ace has been resurrected. Do you think they would let me in with a VW Scirocco? :-)

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