Newport Pagnell services
|Facilities | Rating | Reviews|
|Road:||M1 between J14 and J15|
MAP AND DIRECTIONS
Newport Pagnell Motorway Services Area
|Telephone number:||01908 217722|
|Signposted from the road?||Yes|
|Previous operators:||Motorway Services Ltd, Trusthouse Forte|
|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.
Restaurants: Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme
northbound only: Harry Ramsden's Shops: Fone Bitz, Waitrose, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Meeting Room, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming Motel: Ramada Forecourt: Shell, Select, Deli2go, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme
First two hours free for all vehicles, after which HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £24, 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.
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 head office 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'.
Newport Pagnell 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. In June 2016, the hotel was rebranded again and reopened as a Ramada hotel.
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 the contract for the services was opened to bids, the minimum spend allowed on it was £50,000. It needed to have a petrol station and transport café on each side, and a single main café, with at least 12 petrol pumps and 12 lavatories on each side.
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 government agreed to fund a bridge on condition it was at right angles to the road. Tables and chairs were initially provided on the bridge, to allow customers to admire the speeding traffic. Until the 1961 licensing laws were introduced, alcohol was served with food. The operator argued their fine-dining would never be successful if alcohol couldn't be served.
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. 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.
Due to a lack of space, the services quickly moved away from fine dining. The café was a large, carpeted room with fixed wooden seating by formica-topped tables, overlooking the motorway. There was an Italian-tiled area by the servers and slot machines lined the narrow entrance.
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.
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.
Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.
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 breakfast review "it's called 'all-day' because it tastes as if it had been hanging around all day".
A 1978 government review described the services as "crowded and grubby".
In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the services as "just acceptable", saying it looked worn and made heavy use of pre-cooked food.
In 1961 Egon Ronay praised Newport Pagnell for its quick but stylish eating and reasonable charges. This favourable opinion did not last long.
|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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