Redwings is a historical anomaly. It is Britain's only official B-road service station.
Catering: Spiceland Hotel: Redwings Lodge Forecourt: Pace, Shop, Tchibo, AdBlue4You
Old Great North Road
🌍 Operators (Official Websites):
Trivia and History
See also: A1(M) Planning Applications
Redwings was one of many small petrol stations on the historic alignment of the Great North Road. It served southbound traffic and was named after the Red Wings Bungalow at the back of the site. Although this part of the A1 was poorly aligned in modern terms, it was still built for high speeds, and the petrol station had a long run-in and a wide entrance.
The petrol station became an early candidate to gain a restaurant with planning for this starting in 1977. The restaurant opened in the early 1980s as the Sawtry South branch of Happy Eater. This was later converted to a Little Chef. The petrol station was branded Q8, and a Travelodge hotel was built.
Redwings was a southbound service area with no northbound partner. To the south were a pair of petrol stations known as Alconbury, serving both sides. To the north was a pair of petrol stations known as Toll Bar, but as the northbound side included the Sawtry North branch of Happy Eater, it is often perceived as the partner to Sawtry South at Redwings.
Forte proposed an upgrade to the entire Redwings site in 1993, which would prepare it for the opening of the new A1(M) motorway. Planning permission was refused in favour of Peterborough services.
The new A1(M) opened in 1998, replacing the old A1. The old southbound carriageway of the A1 was repurposed as a local road, the B1043. Responsibility for the road and its service stations transferred from the Highways Agency to Cambridgeshire County Council. Road layouts and signs were updated to reflect the new status, and the two-way traffic arrangement.
Despite all this, Redwings service station managed to make it through the whole process without any changes. It was still there, albeit now serving a local B-road rather than one of the country's most important A-roads. The road signs referring to Redwings (coloured green like the A1) were unchanged, and continue to only face southbound traffic. The lengthy run-in for traffic joining and leaving the road remained.
When a service station has official road signs, this indicates that an agreement is in place to ensure a certain standard of facility is provided, and it is used by this website to regard a service station as official. At Redwings, it is very unlikely that any such agreement exists. Given that Cambridgeshire County Council haven't touched these road signs more than 20 years after inheriting them, it is more likely that they have no record that the signs are there, or that they don't want to stir trouble by taking down signs which have been there for so long.
While the physical layout of the site is still unchanged to this day, inevitably there have been many internal changes. The Little Chef closed in 1998, and is now a restaurant called Spiceworld. The petrol station is now branded Pace. The hotel was sold by Travelodge and became Redwings Lodge - which turned into a chain.
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