The 59 Club, or Fifty Nine Club, was formed in London, England by Reverend Fathers John Oates, Bill Shergold and Graham Hullet in 1959 as a church-sponsored youth organization to help underprivileged youth in the church’s parish. In 1960, sensing that the young rebellious bikers of North London that raced along the North Circular Road might be in need of spiritual guidance, Reverend Bill Shergold, an avid biker himself, rode up to the Ace Café to see if these “Ton-Up boys,” as they were called, would be interested in Sunday mass services where they could have their bikes blessed. Surprisingly it turned out to be hugely successful, and thus the relationship between Londons bikers and the 59 Club began.
By 1962 the club had transformed into a very popular hangout where the wild biker hooligans of the time could socialize, tune-up their bikes, play billiards and basically stay out of trouble. It also became a clubhouse where you could dance and listen to 1950s Rock’n’Roll and Rockabilly music, which was favored by the Rockers and their predecessors the Ton-Up boys. The club was also the first place to premiere the 1950s Marlon Brando film The Wild One, which was banned in UK cinemas by the BBC. Throughout the 1960s the Fifty Nine Club sponsored numerous motorcycle rallies in Scotland, Wales, Germany, and the famous T.T. Races on the Isle of Man; and it became a beacon in the community for social activism when it became a registered charity in 1965. Within a short period of time the motorcycle section of the youth club became so large it overtook the entire club and eventually transformed into the 30,000 member strong, worldwide motorcycle club it is today. The clubs success, according to Father Bill Shergold, was based on its entire lack of rules or formal structure and its association during the 1980s with the Rocker Reunion Movemement created by Len Paterson. Also pivotal to the clubs legacy was the creation of a Classic Section, a sub-group of members dedicated to upholding the 1960s Rockers subculture (the music, the fashion style, and British motorcycles).
The 59 Club is now based in Plaistow, London and meets twice weekly. It remains a registered charity as established in 1965, and has evolved into a place where families and bikers are welcome. Today the club is led by Father Scott Anderson, a fellow motorcycle rider and Rocker, and is still favored by those who are passionate about classic or vintage British, European, Japanese and Café Racer style motorbikes. Current members continue the proud 50 years-long traditions and original club philosophy of having: no rules, no club officers, no politics, and no church agenda. The club is open to male and female bikers alike. Even though we are a registered charity, we are not a ‘Christian motorcycle club’ or a religious organization, also important is that the club has never been a 1% or outlaw biker club, but do we respect all motorcycle riders.
The club exists today as a historical celebration of the original 1950s and 60s British biker subculture, which was centered on 1950s Rock’n’Roll and Rockabilly music, British motorbikes and Café Racers. The club also maintains strong ties to the Ace Café and the annual Rocker Reunions outside of London each year. Over the last five decades the club has become an icon in the international Rockabilly music community and Café Racer motorcycle scene. The 59 Club is still a motorcycle club for individuals who are passionate about riding bikes, gathering at late-night pubs and cafes, and attending bike related events, like the annual ride to Brighton from the Ace Café in North London. Our 50 year relationship with British motorcycles, Café Racers, the Ace Cafe and Rock’n’Roll music has been and always will be our pride and passion.
The Fifty Nine Club has officially recognized sections in Belgium, California, Canada, Chicago, France, Germany, Italy, Nebraska, Spain, Switzerland, and Washington D.C. Only card-carrying members are allowed to wear the 59 Club patch. These members have paid their club dues and have ID cards registered in London. We wear our patches with pride knowing that we represent a motorcycle club with a vibrant British motorcycling history and a worldwide following. We equally cherish the clubs association with the modern Café Racer motorcycle scene.