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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?Yes - northbound 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.


Catering: Burger King, Starbucks, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, West Cornwall Pasty Co. 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), Select, Deli2go, 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.

Location and Junction

The need for the services was first established in 1961, when Redbourn was unable to be built but a replacement was needed. There were no suitable sites anywhere to be found, save for a stop-gap solution at Toddington, so the idea of the services being on the new M1 southern extension was considered. Another option was Beechtree, immediately south of J8, and M1 J6 was looked at.

As the extension came closer to being built, it was noted that the new road required its own maintenance compound and service station. However the new motorway offered very little space for any additional facilities, and closely-spaced junctions made finding the right place even more difficult.

Originally, the M1 was to have a J3, the Scratchwood Interchange, which would have flowed freely on to the Stirling Corner Link Road, which would have provided access to the A1 and A41. An opportunity was spotted to build a maintenance compound on the west side of the interchange which was right in the centre of the new section of the M1, and could serve two other important roads too. This was particularly appealing as Barnet Borough Council had lost one of their depots to the new route, and were looking for a new one. Building the depot required the complex plan for Scratchwood Interchange to be scrapped and replaced with a roundabout.

Only once this had become the preferred design was it realised that the land west of this roundabout would also make a good site for a service station. Before the services could be added to the mix, the land had to be reclaimed from British Rail, where it was being occupied by the disused Scratchwood sidings. The services could then be squashed between the M1 and the Midland Mainline.

In the event, the Stirling Corner Link Road was postponed and eventually cancelled, and there was no reason for the east side of the roundabout to be built. As a result access to the services is provided by a very odd reversed roundabout arrangement with sharp corners and a strange crossover which can take an unprepared motorist by surprise. An upgraded rear access provided access to the local road network for maintenance vehicles.

11 miles away, the guns at HMS Belfast are positioned to fire at the services, to demonstrate its maximum practical reach. When the ship was moored in 1971 the services were chosen as a target in the hope the quirky decision would prove interesting for years to come - and it still does - there is even a plaque on the ship confirming the target.

Planning and Opening

The top bid for the services came from a firm called Grand Metropolitan Motorway Services, with Fortes coming second. Grand Metropolitan had Granada directors on board. The Ministry decided to discount Grand Metropolitan's bid because Granada had made significant errors at Heston. Fortes' building was better but had poor landscaping. Another firm, AVP Industries Ltd, designed a proposal but with very poor finances.

London Gateway was opened in 1969 under the name 'Scratchwood services'. Fortes were unable to access the site until six months after they'd been told they could, as the land was being used to store motorway materials.

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

The motel - originally called 'Scratchwood Travel Lodge' - was built by Forte as an experiment with the Department of Environment as an experiment which required part of the rear access to be derestricted to make the hotel's bar legal.

Early Design

As expected of a site crammed into an urban area, 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. It had a light café, with large windows and green chairs.

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's 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

Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.

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.

A 1978 government review described the services as "too crowded".

In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the services as "poor", complaining about its worn appearance, dirty floor, slow service and lack of choice on the menu.


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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