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London Gateway services

London Gateway
Welcome Break
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsLondon Gateway
Road:M1 between J2 and J4 (there is no J3)

Address:Welcome Break
London Gateway Service Area
M 1 Motorway
Telephone number:02089 060611
Signposted from the road?As Starbucks/Waitrose
Previous operators:Trusthouse Forte
Previous names:Scratchwood
Grid reference:TQ202938
Services type:Single site located between junctions with access to both sides.
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The final services on the M1 before London, London Gateway is a long-distance coach interchange as well as a motorway service area.


Restaurants: Burger King, Starbucks, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme Shops: Waitrose, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Meeting Room, Picnic Tables, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming, small dog walking area Motel: Ramadabook Forecourt: Shell (with: Autogas LPG), Welcome Break Shop, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £23, or £26 to include a £9 meal voucher.

Prices can be paid in the shop with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

Trivia & Details

It is one of very few services to offer cheaper short stay parking, as it tries to establish itself as a part of a day trip to London.

Roadside Location

London Gateway is squished between the M1 and the Midland Mainline.

It utilises an unfinished roundabout which was meant to form M1 J3 with a link road to the A1, but the plans were dropped and never finished. This unusual layout caused some confusion at the time, and continues to be unique and, to the unprepared motorist, dangerous.

12 miles away, the guns at HMS Belfast are trained and elevated on the services, although they're not loaded or serviceable any more.

Planning and Opening

London Gateway was opened in 1969 under the name 'Scratchwood services'. The planning process began late because the site was being used as a construction compound by motorway contractors.

Various catering and hospitality firms were invited to design the services. Struggling Top Rank were one of few to decline the offer.

Early Design

The services have a single, simple, low, box-shaped amenity building. Originally there was a garden in a courtyard at the centre of the services and while the garden has gone, its location can still be made out by looking at the atrium roof.

Much of the building, surrounded by internal roads owing to its cramped site, has not been extended, but the large restaurant has been replaced by fast food facilities.

It also had the country's first AA kiosk.

One of the plans submitted had outdoor toilets, and a main amenity building effectively divided into a private and commercial restaurant.

The services were originally used to trial a home-grocery service. Almost 50 years later this came back as Waitrose.


It formed a viewpoint when Diana, Princess of Wales' funeral hearse made its way up the M1 to Althorp.

On the weekend of the 16th April 2011 the M1 between J1 and J4 was closed following for several days following a severe fire at a scrapyard next to the services. London Gateway was expecting a lot of custom with several events taking place in London, but instead it lost everything and transferred staff to South Mimms instead. Hotel bookings were cancelled and fresh food had to be thrown out.

Survey Results

In May 2012, Visit England rated the services as 4 stars. In August 2011, they received 3 stars.

In 2008 the services won a five star loo award.

In 2007, London Gateway won a five star loo award. In 2006 it won a four star loo award.

In 2006, Holiday Which? magazine rated the services as 3/5.


noneServices on the M1 Toddington (26 miles)
South Mimms (M25 east, 17 miles)
Beaconsfield (M40 north, 25 miles)
noneWelcome Break services Newport Pagnell (39 miles)
South Mimms (M25 east, 17 miles)
Oxford (M40 north, 51 miles)

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