Road:M1 between J11 and J12
Address:Moto Ltd
Telephone number:01525 878400
Signposted from the road?Yes
Previous operators:Granada
Previous names:Luton North
Grid reference:TL030287
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

Parking Prices

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.

Early Days

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

Some of the low-level extensions to the services.

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.

Retail Expansion

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.

Under Moto, M&S Simply Food and WHSmith stores were both trialled here, as was the idea of using the Travelodge to offer 'power naps'.

Recent Changes

The last surviving Little Chef on the motorway network, built in 1996.

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.

Survey Results

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
Shop:Very Good
Family Friendliness:Very Poor
Final Score: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

Visitor Feedback

Views expressed in these comments are those of the individual contributor. They are moderated by Facebook.

AA survey results from the Automobile Association, you can view the full report and what they were looking for in this PDF document.

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