Motorway Services Online

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Our history section attempts to look at why things are the way that they are today. It is broken into several sections, taking you back to the early days of service station planning, and looking at some of the changes that have happened since.

True pedants will point out that everything on this website talks about history! If what you need doesn't fall under any of the headings below, it may fit better under Brands, Operators or How Things Work. Items relating to one specific service area tend to be listed on that individual service area's database page.

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The Original Five

The very invention of the motorway service area spawned from a range of possibilities, and some truly botched decision-making.

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Under the Microscope

We take a number of the country's oldest service areas and look at how they were built, and what has happened since.

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Unbuilt Services

Motorway service areas used to be central to the motorway planning system, but not all the planned ones materialised. There are plenty of examples of service areas that were never built or even half-built!

Closed Services

It's rare that a full service area will totally pack up and close, leaving no trace. When they do, we can't resist taking a look at it!

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How To Design A Service Station

A look through every decade of service station history, and how design has varied according to fashion trends and what they think people wanted.

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Architecturally Interesting Services

It may be a bit too on-brand for us to argue that every service area is interesting, so instead we have picked five whose architecture really stands out.

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Services Which Have Changed Direction

Some service areas look nothing like how they were first envisaged. This page takes a look at some particularly severe examples.