The Drive of Our Lives – The Heyday of the Motorway Service Station

Charnock Richard Services, M6 Motorway

Charnock Richard Services, M6 Motorway

The first motorway service stations were at Newport Pagnell and the infamous Watford Gap, where for many southerners, “The North” indicated on Richard “Jock” Kinneir’s white-on-blue sign, starts. In 1959, Charles Forte employed smiling hostesses to take hats and overcoats from M1 pioneers who could then sit on colourful bar-stools and eat two shilling hot dogs or, if you were a part of the “gin’n’Jag set”, “large fillet steaks” for 12s 6d (72p). David Lawrence, the author of Always a Welcome: The Glove Compartment History of the British Motorway Service Area, says service stations are still microcosms of British society: “They are places where people can be anonymous, places where romances develop, people write books, and criminals exchange money.”

Blue Boar Watford Gap Services, M1 Motorway

Blue Boar Watford Gap Services, M1 Motorway

Charnock Richard Servives, M6 Motorway

Charnock Richard Services, M6 Motorway

Fortes Services Charnock Richard, M6 Motorway

Fortes Services Charnock Richard, M6 Motorway

Forton Services, M6 Motorway

Forton Services, M6 Motorway. With its air traffic control aesthetic, waiter service and unparalleled views of the motorway, the 22 metre-high (72ft) concrete tower on the northbound side of Forton (now Lancaster) services was a must-stop destination for many drivers in the 1960s. It is now a listed building.

Keele Services, M6 Motorway 2

Keele Services, M6 Motorway 2

Keele Services, M6 Motorway

Keele Services, M6 Motorway

Kenning Motor Group - M5 Services, Strensham

Kenning Motor Group – M5 Services, Strensham

Knutsford Services, M6 Motorway

Knutsford Services, M6 Motorway

Newport Pagnell Services, M1 Motorway

Newport Pagnell Services, M1 Motorway

Pennine Tower Restaurant, Forton Services, M6 Motorway

Pennine Tower Restaurant, Forton Services, M6 Motorway

Strensham Services, M5 Motorway (early aerial postcard)

Strensham Services, M5 Motorway (early aerial postcard)

Strensham Services, M5 Motorway

Strensham Services, M5 Motorway

Top Rank M2 Services, Farthing Corner, Kent Now known as Medway services

Top Rank M2 Services, Farthing Corner, Kent Now known as Medway services.

Top Rank Motorport Services, M4 Motorway (Aust Services)

Top Rank Motorport Services, M4 Motorway (Aust Services)

Top Rank Motorport Services, M4 Motorway, Severn Bridge (Aust Services)

Top Rank Motorport Services, M4 Motorway, Severn Bridge (Aust Services)

Top Rank Motorport, Forton Services, M6 Motorway

Top Rank Motorport, Forton Services, M6 Motorway

Watford Gap Services, M1 Motorway

Watford Gap Services, M1 Motorway

Woodall Serives, M1 Motorway

Woodall Serives, M1 Motorway

Fortes M6 Motorway Charnock Richard

Fortes M.6 Motorway, Charnock Richard, Lancashire

Fortes M.6 Motorway, Charnock Richard, Lancashire

Chanrnock Richard Service Station M6 Motorway, August 1963

Chanrnock Richard Service Station M6 Motorway, August 1963

Fortes, M.6 Motorway, Charnock Richard

Fortes, M.6 Motorway, Charnock Richard

The New M6 Motorway Near Preston

The New M6 Motorway Near Preston

Corley Services Trusthouse Forte

Corley Services Trusthouse Forte

Inside the original restaurant at Watford Gap.

Inside the original restaurant at Watford Gap.

The original building at Watford Gap, taken not long after it was built.

The original building at Watford Gap, taken not long after it was built.

Watford Gap Blue_Boar_car_park the original northbound building and car park. The restaurant is on the left and transport café is on the right.

Watford Gap Blue_Boar_car_park the original northbound building and car park. The restaurant is on the left and transport café is on the right.

Leicester Forest East 1970s

Leicester Forest East 1970s

Knutsfords original transport café on the bridge at the services.

Knutsfords original transport café on the bridge at the services.

Granada Toddingtons c.1970

Granada Toddingtons c.1970

Harthill Blue Star

Harthill Blue Star

Many of these postcards come from Glen F’s amazing Flickr site.