Newport Pagnell

Newport Pagnell
Welcome Break
Newport Pagnell
Road:M1 between J14 and J15
Address:Granada Services
Newport Pagnell Motorway Services Area
Newport Pagnell
MK16 8DS
Telephone number:01908 217722
Signposted from the road?Yes
Previous operators:Motorway Services Ltd, Trusthouse Forte
Grid reference:SP858435
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, connected by an internal bridge.
Visit Newport Pagnell/Welcome Break's official website

One of the oldest services around, Newport Pagnell has done a lot with the little space it has. It carries late '50s/early '60s look and this is both its strength and weakness.



Main Amenities: Meeting Room, Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming
Restaurants: Burger King, Costa Express, Harry Ramsden's (northbound only), KFC, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Subway
Shops: Fone Bitz, Waitrose, WHSmith
Motel: Days Inn[book rooms]
Forecourt: Shell, Costa Express

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £11 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £20.50, or £22 to include a food voucher.

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


The crowded southbound services.

Newport Pagnell is often claimed to be the first motorway service area. The truth is that Watford Gap started trading almost a whole year before it, but its facilities were limited. When the services opened they formed the headquarters of certain segments of the Forte business, and today Welcome Break's HQ is only a few miles away in the nearby village.

The services received a lot of media attention in September 2007 when a coach took the southbound entrance at 50mph, mistaking it for a junction. It clipped the curb and came to a rest against the building. 30 out of the 33 passengers were hurt, 6 seriously, and the driver was later charged for drink driving and dangerous driving. There's more information and pictures on the BBC website.

In The Smiths' song 'Is It Really So Strange?', one of the lines is "I lost my bag at Newport Pagnell", referring to the services. They have also featured in a few scenes of the BBC's 'EastEnders'.

This was also the test site for WHSmith. In April 2013, Burger King returned to the services, having previously been removed to save space.

The Starbucks here on the northbound side was refurbished in July 2014.

A Subway outlet opened here on the southbound side on 22 April 2014 to replace the former Eat In outlet. A Harry Ramsden's opened here on the northbound side on 2 April 2015. A Subway outlet joined Harry Ramsden's on the northbound side on 7 April 2015. Both of the new northbound outlets replaced the former Eat In outlet.


It had one of the last remaining Welcome Lodges, becoming Days Inn in April 2009. There were plans for the motel to be rebuilt before being rebranded but this never went ahead, so the motel has retained its 1950s American-inspired design. Although the motel is immediately adjacent to the services, it's technically not part of them, and for this reason it is allowed to sell alcohol whereas at most other services it is strictly illegal.

Early Days

The early days of the services.

The services opened on the 15th August 1960 under the name 'Motorway Services Ltd', which was a join venture between Forte (catering) and Blue Star (fuel) - the former getting involved to help promote their own name. It was referred to in planning as "service area number 3".

The original plan was that Watford Gap would serve lorries whilst Newport Pagnell served cars, but it didn't work for several reasons: Blue Boar didn't want to build a second site and any other operator wouldn't want to send half their traffic to someone else, plus it wasn't thought to be acceptable that a car driver desperately needing facilities could be deterred from stopping.

When Fortes did open the services in 1960, they were under strict instructions to make the building dull and to separate it from the main carriageway with a lot of trees. When the Government came to make their final inspection, they found that both rules had been broken and the site was seen as a "possible distraction" to drivers. Despite this, the services opened as normal and like most services, have since attracted brighter colours and advertising.

The footbridge between the two sides was included to allow full facilities to be maintained at all times, but it is a largely glass structure to provide a good view to visiting motorists.

The services were almost immediately seen as being too small. Even today, they are crammed into the local area, however the northbound site has sprawled into the field next to it. Sadly, the same isn't true for the southbound services and they have a huge shortage of space. Recent development means that the northbound site won't be able to expand any further either.

In the 1960s, Fortes wanted to build a lorry park near Milton Keynes. This and the services would have then been able to promote and relieve each other, and the lorry park would have had the additional benefit of being outside the government's tight regulations.

30 Years

In September 1990 Fortes invited Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to an event celebrating 30 years of motorway services. The Ministry of Transport warned Fortes about such an event, claiming it was a breach of their contract. Cecil Parkinson MP instead attended a much-scaled down event, although traffic congestion made him run late and a speech about the future of the motorway network was ironically cancelled. A time capsule was buried in the northbound services.

Survey Results

In May 2012, Visit England rated the services as 3 stars. In August 2011, they gave the northbound services as 2 stars and the southbound side 3 stars.

In 2008 the services won a five star loo award.

In 2007, Newport Pagnell northbound won a five star loo award. The southbound side won a four star one.

In 2006, both sides of Newport Pagnell won a four star loo award.

Also in 2006, Holiday Which? rated the services at 2/5.

It was here in 2000 that Egon Ronay made the infamous quote "it's called 'all-day' because it tastes as if it had been hanging around all day".


Toddington (15 miles)Services on the M1 Northampton (13 miles)
London Gateway (39 miles)
South Mimms (M25 east, 33 miles)
Welcome Break services Leicester Forest East (45 miles)
Corley (47 miles)

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