|Road:||M1 between J11 and J12|
|Telephone number:||01525 878400|
|Signposted from the road?||Yes|
|Previous names:||Luton North|
|Services type:||Two sites located between junctions, connected by a pedestrian footbridge.|
|Visit Toddington Northbound/Moto's official website|
Visit Toddington Southbound/Moto's official website
Enriched with facilities but not good looks, Toddington is a busy service area and the first in a while for traffic heading from the M25.
Main Amenities: Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Full Hou$e, Lucky Coin, Showers, Truck Wash
Restaurants: Burger King, Costa, Costa Express, Eat & Drink Co., Greggs, Krispy Kreme, West Cornwall Pasty Co.
Shops: Cotton Traders, Fone Bitz, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith
Motel: Travelodge[book rooms] - on the southbound side but accessible to northbound traffic
Forecourt: BP (with: LPG), Greggs, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Air1 AdBlue
Main Amenities: Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Full Hou$e, Lucky Coin, Multi Faith Room, Showers
Restaurants: Burger King, Costa, Costa Express, Eat & Drink Co., Greggs, Krispy Kreme, Lavazza Coffee
Shops: Fone Bitz, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith
Motel: Travelodge[book rooms]
Forecourt: BP (with: LPG), Costa, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Air1 AdBlue
First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £12.50 and HGVs £22, or £23.50 to include a £9 food voucher.
Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details. The location code is 2469 (northbound) and 2470 (southbound).
The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.
Trivia and History
The head office for Granada services and later Moto, this combined with it being a very busy service station has meant it has often been used as a test bed by the firms for new ideas. Previously Granada used Heston and London.
Even today it is arguably one of Moto's busiest sites, helped by the fact that there aren't many services to the south-west. Plans for services at Redbourn were objected to by Granada and refused.
Granada built the services in 1965 as their first motorway service station, since they were looking to expand their role in the hospitality industry. Forte were declined the contract for the services specifically because of their poor design work at Keele.
The bridge for the services was built with the motorway and before the services, but this later proved to be a nuisance, with most of the applicants suggesting it be removed or become a restaurant.
Unlike the other operators who at the time focused on being big and brash, Granada wanted to achieve its task with as much simplicity as possible. Toddington consisted of two two-storey buildings, each with a waitress-service restaurant upstairs, and a supplementary shop outside.
The two-storey plan later proved to be a nuisance, by hiding ancillary facilities in a second storey they were under-used, so the restaurant was later moved downstairs and upstairs relegated to office-space. Government inspectors soon described it as "brash" and "garish", while international architects settled for "appalling" and "a tarmac wasteland".
In 1968, disappointing traffic levels meant Granada wanted to sell the services. The much larger southbound side was carrying less trade, and running a loss. Things began to improve and refurbishment in 1974 made Toddington the first service station with a "free-flow snack supermarket layout", which was described by a design journal as an "interesting initiative" that promises "promises a much improved service to the public". This was the first project which aimed to reduce the amount of time each customer spent actually inside the amenity building, which, 30 years later, became the basis of most service station planning.
Growth and Stagnation
By 1985, the services claimed to be the largest of their kind in Europe. In 1987 a motel opened which was branded Travelodge.
Other facilities offered included a Burger Express, and something called a 'picnic building'.
Development slowed down in the 1990s, and Granada acknowledged the services were run-down, but claimed they didn't want to develop them as they didn't know what affect the widening of the M1 would have on the services.
Eventually the services were safeguarded, and Granada went on to fight competition from Redbourn by proposing that a second storey be added to their car park, and that gaps left by past expansions of the amenity building be filled to provided a larger Burger King, and a new Little Chef.
As Granada's focus moved from rest and relaxation to retail, further ground-level extensions were made. Proposals included Granada 2Go and a Burger King drive thru, but what they got was shops including Scoop, Halfords, T2 and Birthdays.
The Little Chef here was the last to leave the motorway network, lasting until 2010. It may well have lasted a little longer as Moto wanted to set up a Costa stand at the entrance to the services, but those plans were refused as inappropriate development, so Costa took over Little Chef instead.
In July 2010, The Barber Shop on the southbound side, situated in a portakabin in the car park, closed down and then reopened in December 2011 as a Faith Room.
In May 2012 and August 2011, Visit England rated the services as 3 stars.
The wide variety of shops was praised by Lord Adonis (Secretary of State for Transport) during his surprise visit in September 2009.
The services were inspected by the AA on the 24th and 25th of March 2007. These are their results:
|Road safety and parking:||Acceptable|
|Outdoor facilities:||Very Poor|
|Access and indoor facilities:||Good|
|Family Friendliness:||Very Poor|
The services were said to be well priced(!) with secure, clean facilities, but the staff were poor and there was very little to smile about outside. The AA said that the poor result could be down to the fact that the services were being refurbished at the time they were inspected and they would improve afterwards.
In 2006, Toddington was rated 4/5 by Holiday Which?
In 2005 and again in 2006 the services won a five-star loo award.
|London Gateway (26 miles|
South Mimms (M25 east, 25 miles)
Heston (M4 east, 38 miles)
Reading (M4 west, 61 miles)
|Services on the M1||Newport Pagnell (15 miles)|
|none on M1|
Heston (M4 east, 38 miles)
Reading (M4 west, 61 miles)
|Moto services||none nearby|
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