Dugout Special: Biker grove in Golders's Green

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 Dugout Cafe, Golder's Green in its heyday...


One of the most obscure cafes in London. Still with some original atmosphere, and plenty of grimy caff kudos...

"The Dugout Cafe (St Alban's Lane NW11) in Golders Green is the only cafe of the three main North London rocker's cafes that has remained in constant use from the heyday of the late fifties / early sixties.

(The other two being the Busy Bee on the Watford bypass, and The Ace on the North Circular road).

The Ace was re-opened as a cafe about four years ago after being used as a tyre-fitters since it's closure in 1969.

The unfortunate thing about the Dugout is that it doesn't really have any of it's original fixtures and fittings left.

It never was a Formica or Vitrolite palace. But from what I could gather from talking to longstanding customers Colin Cooke and Dave Johnson, it used to have trellis-work on the walls with wine bottles etc. hanging on it, as well as benches which could be moved over when the place got lively. It used to stay open until midnight.

I am too young to have been riding motorcycles back in the sixties, but I did go to the Dugout a few times when I was working in the area.

So I arranged a run out from the Ace with a few friends - two of whom used to go there back in the day. (Our noisy old British bikes caused a bit of stir when we arrived).

The cafe, as it name suggests, is situated in a basement and has no shopfront as such.

I spoke to the present owner who bought it from the bloke that had owned it for 35 years. He knew of its history as a biker's cafe and is still interested in promoting that side of it.

Dave and Colin, reminisced about the old days...

Colin said that you were lucky to get a seat in the place as it was so busy.

He went on to say that they used to end up moving from cafe to cafe to try and beat the crowd.

Another cafe they used was 'Salami's' by Brondesbury Station on the Kilburn High Road (I used this cafe often when it was known as The Venus; it was open most of the night).

Dave recalled that when Coca Cola bottles went up to one shilling he bought a round for everyone - twenty bottles for one pound!

The owner made him pay up front as he didn't believe that he had the money.

Dave and Colin also remembered that there was a juke box in the right hand corner of the place, and that their mate Pete put his head through the ceiling once whilst doing some over-energetic dancing.

The Dugout still has a few celebrity customers, including Bert Kwouk (he of Pink Panther fame)..."

(Phil Whyte)

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