Why the Spirit of 59 Website?

My name is Lenny Paterson I am a Chelsea Bridge (London) Rocker from late ’65 on, and a member of the 59 Club from 1966. I started the Rockers Reunions in London, 1981 and gave it up in early 1994 to concentrate on my family & business. 

In 2005, the Spirit of the 59 website was launched to formalise a motley collection of webpages on Rockers that we had established on the internet since 1995. Being directly involved in the Rocker movement of the 60s and the creator and organiser of the ‘Rocker Reunion’ movement in 1981onwards, we felt it was time to pay our overdue respect to the man who had been the ‘Spirit of the 59’ Club … and how had ‘strangely’ been written out of 59 club history and excluded. Father Graham Hullett.

Most rockers, bikers and a few sociologists are well aware that the vast majority of what has been written about rockerdom is a load of bollocks. Our concern was not that. The mass media has only been interested in demonising, ridiculing or exploiting for their own financial gain the rocker lifestyle. Our concern was the shit that has been said and done within our own ranks.

And righting it.

Within the Rocker movement of England, and particularly within the 59 Club itself, there are some a nasty, ignoble and unresolved wounds. Wounds which caused a great deal of loss not just to the Rocker movement but the biker one that followed it.

I met with Mike Cook, in 1984-ish when the 59 was still in Yorkton Street, to discuss organising a Rockers Reunion dance and Run with the 59 Club to help reinvigorate and revitalise what was even back then the dying embers of a once holy grail for us “bad boy” Rockers.

Mike Cook was not interested at all, even though I offered to organise everything. All he needed was to staff the bar/canteen and let us use the premises. It was clear to me that the commitment was no longer there, complacency had set in.

Many others had similar experience, despite the fact that the man creamed a full-time “youth worker” salary off the local government. At that point, the club had not seen any “youths” since the 1960s

The only fire left there was from within the Classic Section, who pretty much did it all for themselves.

Contrary to popular belief, the 59 Club struggled to deal with we Rockers and that is where Father Graham showed his true grit & leadership. For example, when the Road Rats MC was formed from some of the Chelsea Bridge Boys, the 59 Club did not want to allow them in. The same happened when the local Hells Angels grew out of other rocker/59 Club elements. Again Father Graham stood up and reminded them of the ethos of the club and that, my friends, was the beginning of the end for Father Hullett.

Rather than abandon his principles, and those of the 59 Club’s charitable remit, he left and with him left the Spirit of the 59 Club.

A shame members of the current management council carry. And how different things might have been in British biking scene if only the 59 had remained what it was, and opened itself up to others.

How ironic that the Ace Cafe (London) Ltd 46 years later wants to throw out members in the Australia 59 Club Section ( and have since removed them from their register) for pretty much the same thing.

When Father Hullett passed over in 2012, he left me (Lenny Paterson) his vast collection of photo’s and the ‘Spirit of 59’ Enfield Bullet presented to him by some of the old 59 Club members documented and aired by Dilly Barlow on BBC R4 Home Truths in 2005.

Unlike others, I wanted the photos put out on the Spirit of 59 club website for all to enjoy for this was my passing gift to ALL Rockers. Father Graham had no time for greed. He was one of us and the 59 Club have, by handing over it’s membership to the Ace Cafe (London) Ltd, shown their contempt and arrogance towards us Rockers by doing so without a care for our concerns or wishes.

A few questions remain in our minds.

Why, when Father Bill Shergold, ex-club leaders Mike Cook and others were directly connected to Johnny Stuart, was Father Graham Hullett erased from the history of the club and movement, denying access of the rocker world, now worldwide, to the images and memories of its heyday?

Why had he at that time been erased from 59 Club history by the current leaders, individuals who had removed him as trustee without his knowledge we understand?

Why were we being fed a fabricated, sanitised version of our and the club’s history ?

Why are the 59 Club refusing to reply to any questions, are they hiding something ?

Father Graham Hullett stood up for us less desirable Rocker element of the 59 Club virtually alone, what finally pushed him to leave?

Father Graham Hullett has always been a far too principled individual to discuss the past. But we are not. Because we are Rockers. And our opinion is, if we had known what had happened at the time, we would have fucked them off out the club for ever … and the club been far better for it.

It’s time the world started to know, especially those fine young rockers and rockettes who have embraced our lifestyle on every continent, about the realities … good and bad.

This is the new beginning of a LONG overdue public debate about the 59 Club. If you support the aims of this site then please email us or put your name down in support.

We will raise the Spirit of 59 to embody the old tired body.

56 thoughts on “Why the Spirit of 59 Website?”

  1. Spot on Lenny – more power to your elbow mate! The 59 has been a disgrace these past 30 years and has feck all concern for bikers, Rockers and anyone else but a narrow “clique” and their mates.

    I spit blood when I see comments from overseas Rockers who want to join and visit the 59 when they come to London – what a surprise they’ll get when , instead of a vibrant , all-ages biker / Rocker club they seem a stinking piss-poor “bar” full of grumpy old gits only interested in the £18 membership fee and eff all else!

    1. Yes Ross, that’s a complaint I have heard many times. They appear to have no concept left of what the 59 club was about, by labelling me an ‘Old age pensioner, trying to split the Rockers up’, with a comment that starts with ‘Hi Guys and ends with, ‘We Love you all’ ? Who the hell wrote that ? From what I can make out the ‘Council of Management’ of the 59 club are old age pensioners to and from their obvious inactivity to organise anything at all for their members, I would say they are prematurely fossilised. They are taking the piss as well as our money.

  2. It’s a pity this is all happening. But the club does need reorganising somehow. It would be good to see more 59 club events. And it would be nice if they visited events outside London once in a while. After all, it’s a worldwide club, so at least they should visit some of our Northern England events once in a while. It would also be good to see the Link back in print, or available as a download. I have to agree that in recent years, we haven’t had much in return for our sub’s.

    1. The committee have a ‘Jolly’ on the Isle of Man TT every year at their Barbecue, then they have a stand at the Rockers Reunion Annual dance in Reading and the Ace cafe rides to Brighton etc, it appears they are there to sell badges, T shirts and increase membership numbers, to my knowledge they do not organise any events apart from their Bizarre tinsel Christmas party in the months after Christmas, which I understand was cancelled this year ???! Does the club pay for the TT & other outings ? Does the Ace cafe get paid for their seemingly pathetic handling/admin work ? Has company/charity Law been broken by the 59 club in their offhand manner of tying in with Wilsmores Limited company without giving members notice or their voting rights ?

  3. Grew up a teenage Rocker in Blackpool.
    Now an old(er) Rocker in Walden, NY
    You have my support Lenny.

  4. I would like to join your group. I grew up in Hemel Hempstead, was a rocker and still am, despite moving to Australia in 1980. I’m a member of the 59 Club in Australia, I’ve visited the Ace and it was good to see life in the old place again. But I’m not happy with the commercialisation of being a rocker, nor making our life a fashion like the Hard Rock Cafe. Brotherhood, bikes and rock n roll!

  5. Father Hullets commitment and passion must be remembered, not swallowed up and spat out by what is turning into nothing but a cold hearted business. It was NEVER meant to be profiteering, just showing us youngsters there was always another better way. We MUST NOT let it slide into nothing.

  6. I’m a member of the 59 club Australia,having moved from Manchester 16 years ago now well into my sixties always been a rocker now seems I have to pay the ace cafe fees if I want to remain a member of a club on the other side of the world keep up the fight and the true spirit will prevail

  7. As someone who supports the ideals of the 59 club but have been disappointed with The current committees high hands attitude that has little regard for anyone other than UK members please count on my support.

  8. This is well over due , Australian 59 member 60 plus years young originally from the Isle of Wight always been a rocker greaser

  9. I know very little about this, but recognise that Father Hullet played a great part and that he is being airbrushed out. I would like to know why.

  10. I support everything you put forward. It is nothing but disrespectful to the memory and ethos of the originator of a charitable organisation to sell out to a money making concern.
    As it currently stands, if you pay the price asked, anyone who wants to ‘bling-up’ with badges, patches, pins and clothing can look the part without knowing jack-shit about what it all stands for.
    Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but this is about a movement not a circus or fashion show.
    Keep up your hard work.
    BTW : I am leading the International Rockers Reunion ride here in Australia and hope the rest of the world has a good piss up coz we will.

    1. Have a great meeting and lets make this day the beginning of a Worldwide Rockers Reunion with all Rockers Riding in the same direction, that is away from the greed of people like Mark Wilsmore and the apathy of the existing trustees of the 59 club, who have in my opinion sold out to the ace cafe Ltd because they can’t be bothered to do the admin themselves. Since the ace cafe London Ltd have taken over the admin, they have taken peoples £18 on the basis of those receiving a Link magazine. To my knowledge no one has received them and subscriptions have since run out of date, no word of apology or explanation was forthcoming nor was any subscription renewal reminder sent, so quite what the ace cafe are doing apart from processing money and sending a cheap window sticker with an invite to purchase more regalia and issuing threats is a mystery, which I hope will be resolved when I have inspected the documents I have formally requested to view. This Saturday will herald a New day of unity if I have the support of the Rockers. Lenny Paterson.

  11. Rockers Forever! Supporting the hard work many true Rockers have put in over many years and continue in the true spirit of the 59 and the Rockers.

  12. After listening to your interview and reading your posts re: the 59 Club I would like to offer my support for your efforts to maintain the tradition.
    I am currently an Australian 59 Club member and would be willing to join the London 59 Club if you believe it would help in having paid up members suppoting your cause.
    Let me know how to help and I will do what I can.
    Molly59er

  13. been a member for years. visited and stayed over at the HQ in Hackney.
    Been to Rockers Reunion gigs and enjoyed it all. I hope things get sorted out.

  14. one thing that did piss me off greatly was when I rode my ’55 Norton Dominator café racer down from Scotland to the HQ and wanted to join the classic section and was refused. I had to turn up on their meeting night, even though members were at the HQ. I didn’t bother joining.

  15. Are there enough people left who care about the type of honour, comradeship and principles which go hand in hand with riding an old motorcycle? I sincerely hope so. I have been trying to uphold these fundamental truths as a motorcyclist for the last 40 years, and sometimes I feel very alone. Stand up you caff boys, stand up you rebels. Stand up you Rockers!

  16. Thanks for publicly showing the old photos from Father Hullett. Brilliant, although before my time. I was an 80’s Chelsea Bridge/Thornton Heath pond loonie/Star regular, but do remember being regularly burn’t off by “Baby Blue” on my jap crap on the early ’80’s runs back from Brighton to the Star for the obligatory CSA gig ****up. Great fun for tearaways like us at the time.
    I do agree that the whole scene is now commercially orientated, and the charitable goals of the original 59 club do now seem to be being forgotten. There are alternative charitable bike organisations but not with the original 59 club inclusive intent or it’s admirable history. The present Ace thing is living off old aura and the fact that the scene is suddenly so cool around the world. (When did that happen?)
    So good luck.

  17. I went down o london on my triumph with my pal on his triton round about 1988.we finished up at a youth club type place and,joined the 59 club.later we had beers at the axe pub and headed back to Norwich.in 94 we did the Chelsea bridge to ace café run(a65 and a commando).I then had kids.tonight with my triumph in pieces trying to source 9/1 std pistons I thought I might rejoin the 59 club,head down to London,visit the club.i have stumbled across this unrest in the process and am now not so sure.i disagree with any history,or person being erased,what happened,happened.I will monitor this site with interest and fully support your stance.i am only 50 but have allways had brit bikes and feel as much a rocker as you original boys.chippy Norwich.seams like a bit of a ramble but it has shocked me into some sort of supportive reply.

  18. Hi Lenny I’m all for the 59 club reorganized’.I haven’t rejoined because its now part of the Ace cafe.Now the home of trendy ,fashion must be seen posers and a tourist attraction like the Hard rock cafe.No longer a working class cafe for Rockers and Rockettes .The 59 club badge is now a must have by everyone.Even if they have been a member or not.And even if they have ever been to any of the clubs.It makes my blood boil when I see prats in music videos or fashion models wearing Rocker jackets. And there is all ways a 59 club badge on it.Keep up the good work my friend. And make sure you put a copy right on any Spirit of the 59 logos.Or it will end up as a fashion want.

  19. Hi guys
    I just received this link from a mate in OZ, all very interesting comments!
    I am now living in Spain, and have 4 bikes, restoring a classic BMW.
    Prior to Spain I emigrated to the USA in 1973, where I continued to ride mainly BMW,s I am trying to locate mates from the 64 – 69 London days, then I had a bonnie, trident , and installed a Bsa dbd in a featherbed frame. Regarding father Graham he was a great person and took a great deal of care with the club and members he approached me in 66 with the idea of starting a diving club I was dead keen and we soon had 6 members the minimum needed we even built a submarine may be some will remember it being in the club house upstairs. I lost track of the club when I went to the USA,
    But now mam looking to contact mates, I have been able to reach Mo still living in London, and John and Phil in OZ , if Bill Calydon, or Colin and Kathy are around please contact me. Mick Elliott mickdelliott@Hotmail.com

  20. Well Said Lenny, again I 100% agree with you..
    I Was a Member Untill 2005/6 When My Ex and I Spilt.
    When it Moved from Hackney To Plaistow it all went Tits Up Or Should I Say Down lol ..
    I For One Have Not Supported The Ace Cafe , I Have always maintained It is Well Over Priced , Food Is Shit and No Atmosphere Of How It Should Be ..
    What The Commitee Members Did To OUR 59 CLUB
    Is Disgusting and Such a Shame But They Can and Will Not Lenny Remove Our Fond Memories Of The Good Old Days at The Original 59 Club In Paddington/Hackney.. Thanks once again for Every thing you have done in the past and what you still do for all Us Rockers in the Present..
    Carol xx

  21. Remember Chelsea Bridge, first Rockers Reunion & worked Funfair, being a Battersea boy, the only thing that made money out of it, was the coffee stall, and Lenny that time you hired a Routemaster for those who didn,nt have transport to Brighton. wasn,t about MONEY & PROFIT just a jolly up, maybe that’s where we went wrong [ I DON,T THINK SO ]. Who wants to be the richest man in the graveyard ??? See you at the Pavillion Farewell do , Wuff Wuff ,if not before keep Rock & Rollin

  22. I support len in this – as a 70s Rocker we were drawn by the story and the current version does not match what we knew at the time to be true. Chop.

  23. You seem to have raised some very good points here. As a Rocker/Greaser from the sixties to the present day it was very much all for one and one for all, an extended family so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great groups, cafe meets, etc. The Rocker culture is as strong ever lets keep it that way, good luck with your intentions. Steve.

  24. Hi Lenney,
    Just learned about the 59 club and was about to sign up for membership, until
    I came across your web page. I agree with others about the commercialism of the 59 club by getting in with Ace Cafe . On the 59 club web page Father Hullett was mention once, that is it. How can I help with your movement, I’m on the other side of the pond. I want the spirit of the 59 club to live on, and the youth of today have the opportunity to belong to a club bigger then themself’s. I was a rebellious youth long long ago, now a old man who rides and love cafe racers. Cheers

  25. I joined the 59 back in 69 but strangely my name and all details disappeared from the register when a certain Mr Wilsmore got his greedy claws on it and I had to re join as a new member. The 59 isn’t a patch on what it used to be, neither is the Ace. Wilsmore isn’t interested in the 59, it’s history or its past membership and why should he when he can get all new members to go to the Ace to pay their membership fees and sell them a 59 patch and anything else they can think of at his over inflated prices.
    Rant over.

  26. My first visit to this web site, and I feel rejuvenated, I was beginning to think it was only me who had these views.
    My local watering hole has a group of rockers, bikers and scooterists who meet for a social on a Wednesday evening. One of my friends now in his seventies spotted my little 59 club badge. It transpired he was also a member, and has been so since the fifties. We have been friends for years and were completely unaware we were both members of the same club. Turns out quite a few of us are members, and none of us were aware of each other’s membership. But we are now, and the group is growing and has a packed social calender.
    As I walk past the bike park in the town, and look at the riders, I have to wonder how many of them are also members. A club is an organisation for people with a common interest. The trouble with the 59 is that you pay your membership, but outside of London, you never get to meet other members, therefore it is almost impossible to organise anything, to promote the organisation and its values and lifestyle.
    What we need to do is set up local 59 Club social nights, in café’s, pubs or wherever, much in the same way that MAG do. Once these groups are formed, those different groups can interact with each other, support each other’s events, organise to breathe some life into the 59, and above all, have a bloody good nationwide debate about how the club should be run and what it stands for.
    Wilsmore is a business, not a club. Eventually the Ace will absorb the 59 and in a few years’ time, the 59 will cease to be mentioned.
    Robert
    Age 62 and 4 months.

  27. My name is George and I joined the 59 Club on my 17th Birthday in 1967….yes I’m now one of those ‘Old farts’ but living in Australia.! I now ride a 1972 Triumph Tiger TR6R and wishing I had brought a bike with an electric start. As a young ‘Rocker ‘ I had a Bonnie!
    Good luck with your efforts…I for one would support you in upholding the tradition of ‘The Club’ ,,,,Stay safe George. (014686)

  28. Just read the latest, how Mark Wilsmore of the Ace Cafe has gone from trademarking the word Rockers in the UK and going around threatening people to stop using; to trademarking it in the USA and doing the same.

    Someone needs to take him down a peg or two.

    How two coppers – he and his brother – can trademark the word and then go about threatening other genuine rockers is beyond me.

    But let the world know, he is a fake rocker. Always is, always will be.

    If anything he should have trademarked that … Fake Rocker™.

  29. The 59 and many cafe dwellers around uk where a great bunch of ppl who enjoyed our bikes and the usual banter around bikes.I frequented the Cellar Windsor and my cafe the The Can in Eton.Busy Bee Nightingale where other places we enjoyed.The emergence of the Hells Angels was a stain on the bikers of my day.Violence there mantra

  30. So, let’s get down to business! Do you actually ride a British motorbike? Can you get to South London? Do you fancy getting a regular meet of like-minded riders together? A cafe, rock’n’roll music, food? I’ve got plans! Contact me at guageman1@gmail.com PETER BOND

  31. Well said Lenny ! , Without Father Graham there is no 59 club. All times that I meet Father Graham I though what a nice guy , when we used to go to Paddington & later Yorkton St , as was Father Bill . Who the F+-+K do they think they Are ? leaving Father Graham OUT , You know me of old Lenny Nickname Tar-Mack Phil .

  32. i joined the 59 at hackney in 1964 and re joined this year wanted to get the 59 patch for my leather so had to re join but it’s like you say it is all about the ace and money, just dont seem the same, would like it to be seperate from the ace as too commercialised.

  33. As a 16 year old in Aberdeen riding a Vespa my mum had bought me I went to the 59 club with a friend who saved me from the members as I was wearing a parka ! I loved motorbikes but had to wait until I could buy one for myself. I had a great time there and have fond memories of the banter and friendship there, so much so that I joined again last year. Not the same is it ? I’m sad that things have become so commercialised when today’s youth needs the same values that the club showed back then. If you ever set up an ‘ original 59 ers’ club I’d be happy to pay the fees for the honour of being part of something that had real values.
    Good luck and respect to you.

  34. 1970s Rocker, Greaser.
    Well said Lenny, we can all see
    what’s happening.
    Why don’t you old originals start again, turn things around and call it the 95 club ?
    You would get support from the t

  35. Hi Lenny,
    Just found your site and can I say how needed it is. I joined the 59 club in 1966 and really enjoyed the comradarie of like minded people. It is a travesty that Rev Graham has been written out of the history of the club seeing that I and many others saw him as that friendly face that gave us advice which influenced our lives.
    Count me in for any future plans you may have .

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