Junction 3 of the M90 is a fairly normal roundabout junction, but to the south-east two sliproads cut the corner between the motorway and the A92. This creates a small wedge of land sandwiched between motorways, and this particular bit of land hold a wannabe service area with so much history that it now has a namesake drama series. Who'd have though it.
Before we go any further, if all this talk about triangles and shortcuts has you confused then you might want to take a look at this map
The Birth of a Kingdom
The fact that this junction is home to the point where lots of traffic heads off towards East Fife made it the perfect site for a service station, after all it would save building individual service stations on the M90 and A92.
So, in 1998 the plans were put through for Kingdom services (Kingdom referring to the Kingdom of Fife), sitting in that very slice of land with traffic heading around it in all directions. The services consisted of a single building with the petrol forecourt on one side and service station on the other, very similar to the likes of Derby and Burton and Leicester today. This isn't the first time a service station has been built in the middle of a junction either, as the nearby Stirling services demonstrates.
It was built by BP and offered a Spar shop, who were also at Roadchef services at the time, alongside a Wimpy and self-service restaurant. So far it looks like the services were a guaranteed recipe for success, but hang on, because as with all good tragedies this one has a sad bit.
It All Went Wrong
Don't be taken in by the bright lights and green windows, as there were quite a few problems with these services. The first is that they weren't all that far from Kinross, and as Granada got there first it was decided that Kingdom shouldn't be signed from the motorway. This decision created a bit of fuss and made it to the national press, but that wasn't good enough to make the government change their mind.
It was agreed that the services should be signed from the A92 and Kingdom had another trick up its sleeve: you see, the services backed on to the A92-M90 link road anyway, so all they had to do was stick up a couple of BP signs and viola! Instant advertisement!
Well, not quite. You see, at the eastern part of the triangle - where the entrance to the services is - traffic cannot head to or from the M90 south, as until the services were built there was absolutely no need for that movement. This meant that once traffic had seen the BP sign it was too late for them to get there, unless they fancied a 15-mile detour without any signs to guide them. Kingdom could be accessed from the M90, but only via the north-western corner of the triangle, and as there were no signs for the services from here only those who were 'in the know' could get there.
However, most people who were 'in the know' would probably know somewhere to take a break which didn't require navigating two large roundabouts before you could get there. So, by the early millennium, all of this had taken such a strain on Kingdom that it was consigned to the history books and closed.
A Glimmer of Hope
For a short while the services opened again, but in the form of Peggy Sue's American Diner. The advantage here is that whoever planned it knew about the motorway problems and aimed the Diner at local residents and passers-by. It wasn't that much of a success though, as by 2004 it had gone.
In 2006, Shell decided that it must be third time lucky, and that they could do a better job. In fact, they re-opened the petrol station - still called Kingdom services - and even replaced the sign backing on to the sliproad with their very own. The new filling station also had a Nisa Shop, and Shell too had hopes for this service station, hopes which weren't all marketed at drivers.
You see, the half of the building which acted as the service station was this time opened as the Kingdom of Fun, a children's activity centre. The new Kingdom has been separated from the filling station, creating two distinctively different facilities under one roof.
The services also include a lorry park at the back, which has existed at the site since BP, but was forgotten about with the demise of Kingdom services. An industrial estate also exists on the same corner of land.
There you have it - ten years ago there were high hopes for this building, but disappointment soon settled in and created something totally different. Since then the rules for motorway services have been relaxed and Kingdom could have quite easily gained signs from the motorway. So, should anyone ever look for a new service area in the area, the perfect site is waiting right here. Well, if you can evict the children, of course!
With thanks to Alan Simpson for the information used on this page.