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Unbuilt Services On The A1 and A1(M)

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For a list of current service areas on the A1, see Services on the A1.

The A1 and A1(M) together form one fast road between London and Newcastle, and onwards to Edinburgh. It has always been an important route, but the idea that it should be built like a motorway only came about in the 1990s. In motorway history that's very recent.

That distinction is important to us because since 1992 the Department for Transport has not had any formal involvement in the opening of new service areas. Three long sections of the A1(M) through Yorkshire, as well as the part through Huntingdonshire, opened without any such planning.

The situation is made even more interesting because the A1(M) isn't a new route. It's a direct replacement for the existing A1, which already had many facilities to offer the motorist - albeit often small in scale and with some terrifying exits onto the dual carriageway.

Those frontages are one of the main reasons why parts of the A1 needed to be replaced by a motorway. Too many exits spoil a fast road. But some facilities are still needed for drivers. The effort to provide new service areas for the new A1(M) has moved through the planning process extremely slowly.

Early Planning

Not all of the A1(M) is new. Parts of it are among the oldest motorways in the country.

This means these sections went through the Ministry of Transport's planning system, who's conclusions are below:

Hertfordshire Sections

The A1(M) between modern-day J1 and J10 was considered too short to warrant any service areas. Besides, facilities were available on the A1 at either end.

At the southern end was the Beacon Café. As the M16/M25 prepared to open, the Department of the Environment decided to acquire the petrol station here and turn it into South Mimms services.

Doncaster Bypass

A1(M) Sprotbrough looking north.jpg
The A1(M) at the unused service station exit.

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On its own, the Doncaster Bypass between modern-day J34 and J38 would also be too short to have any service areas of its own, especially with facilities at each end.

However, it was decided that a lot of traffic would be joining the bypass from the M18 and the M1. A line was therefore measured from the M1's service area at Woodall, and it was decided that a new service area would be needed at Sprotbrough.

Sprotbrough was considered a low priority. However the Doncaster Bypass needed a maintenance compound, so Sprotbrough was built with full slip roads on each side, rear access to Melton Road and various works facilities, most of which could have been moved out the way when the service area was built. The road here is in a deep cutting, and facilities would have been provided up high, like at Medway. No footbridge was provided.

In 1971 the local authority wanted to use the site of the service area as a car park. This was refused, but it was confirmed the services would not be built any time soon. The comment was made that the A1(M) was too short, and the rest of the A1 had enough facilities.

With hindsight the site was far too small to turn into a service area, especially with the works unit taking up some of the land. It was therefore never built, and with other facilities having opened along the A1, Sprotbrough was never really needed.

The land is still owned by England's national highway authority and is used as a maintenance compound.

Darlington to Newcastle

Being 36 miles of motorway by 1970, the road between A1(M) J56 and the A194(M) at Whitemare Pool would be the longest part of the A1(M) for some time. The maths said that it warranted two service areas.

The original plan appears to have been:

  • High Clump (J57-58) would be built first.
  • Pea Flatts (J62-63) would be built once High Clump had reached full capacity.

In the event, the owners of an existing service area at Washington threw a spanner in the works, and managed to negotiate their way into becoming the A1(M)'s first motorway service area. The old petrol station there which had to be demolished would also be one of the first on the road to be forced to close.

As a result, Pea Flatts was removed from the plan. High Clump was kept as a reserve site, with a scheduled opening date of 1970. Several options had been looked at in the region, known as High Clump, Low Clump, Stub Cross and Archdeacon Newton.

A report dated 1995 stated that the government still owned land which had been held for the High Clump scheme, but it only consisted of 0.25 of an acre on either side of the motorway. This was most likely to be left over from the original compulsory purchase order required for the motorway.

The proposal was deferred and, due to the volume of outstanding motorway service area, High Clump was postponed indefinitely in about 1973. One road atlas did incorrectly show it as being open.

Motorway to Tyneside

The government announced in 1989 that they would be widening and straightening the whole route of the A1, with some significant lengths of it being replaced by a motorway.

While this was only a proposal, it caused some alarm among the providers of the existing facilities, most of which were managed by Trusthouse Forte under the Little Chef and Happy Eater brands. Forte accepted that the new road should have service areas at 30 mile intervals, in line with government policy, and were assured that their historic connection to the road would be acknowledged in any negotiations, but at the same time they were warned that they wouldn't be allowed to continue their monopoly on facilities.

In the event, responsibility for planning motorway service areas was passed to the private sector the following year. Forte got their proposals for the new motorway in and each one was judged on its merits.

The Department of Transport had wondered whether they should forbid existing roadside facilities from expanding, as that would increase the value of compensation they would have to pay when they are forced to close. It's fortunate that they decided not to do this, as it soon became clear that much of the A1 wasn't going to be upgraded any time soon.

Closed A1 Services

Glatton AJ's and Mobil.
The service area at Glatton.

The history of the A1 has made it a haven for closed service areas. Some of the most well-remembered of these include:

  • Little Paxton (both sides)
  • Alconbury (2 petrol stations and 2 restaurants, not forgetting the Megatron site by the former A14(M))
  • Redwings (southbound only)
  • Toll Bar (Sawtry)
  • Glatton (Woolpack Farm; both sides)
  • Wansford was never an official service station, but is remembered because it looks unique
  • Stoke Rochford
  • Pontefract (southbound only; was due to gain a Little Chef)
  • Aberford (Nuthill and Northways)
  • Boroughbridge (both sides)
  • Rainton (both sides)
  • Baldersby Gate (two sides around the roundabout)
  • Oaktree (both sides)
  • High Brough Moor (northbound only)
  • Scotch Corner (both sides before the roundabout)

Private Proposals

Sawtry Pulse & Cocktail.
The building at Sawtry (Toll Bar), where several service areas have been proposed.

The private sector has always been responsible for planning new facilities on the A1. In addition, since 1992 it has been responsible for planning new service areas on the A1(M) motorway too.

We couldn't attempt to list the history of every restaurant or petrol station which has ever been proposed. Instead, the table below lists the information we have about motorway service areas proposed for the A1(M), plus a couple of similar facilities which have been planned for the A1.

You can see clusters of proposals as different sections of the motorway were built. In the early 1990s there was a plan to turn the whole road into a motorway, but only the sections that were planned in detail received planning applications.

Equally, you will find that older sections of the road tend to attract smaller developments (planning clearance is easier to obtain where traffic speeds are lower), and those generally aren't recorded on this website. The A1 between Baldock and Alconbury is a good example of this standard of road.

Place Location Proposed Resolved Outcome Notes
Scotch Corner J53 (north-east corner) 197x 1980 Built. Promoted from A1 service area to A1(M) motorway rest area in 2017.
Musselburgh Old Craighall (north-west corner) 198x 1981 Built.
Ferrybridge Ferrybridge (north-east corner) 1983 1985 Built. Was designed for the M62 - Britain's first private initiative motorway site.
Clifford Moor Farm J44-45 1985 1994 Refused. Planned by Bayford Developments.
Blyth J34 (south-east corner) 1986 1987 Built. Planned to serve the A1, rather than A1(M).
Seaton Burn J80 (north-east corner) 198x 1989 Built. Planned by Kelly's Kitchen and Fina.
Markham Moor South Markham Moor (north-east corner) 1987 1991 Built. Planned by Shell.
Brampton Hut J12 (south-west corner) 1989 1992 Built. Planned by The Petergrove Consortium & S.P.Morley, Tim Martindale Associate and Norfolk House. Upgrade of an existing site. Was designated an MRA under the failed A1(M) extension.
Dishforth J49 (south-west corner) 1989 1992 Refused. Planned by Strait Properties. There was also an application from Truckhaven for a truckstop opposite, but that was eventually refused too. Opposed by the residents' group, 'Opmore Unwanted Truckstop'.
Peterborough J17 (south-west corner) 1989 2001 Built. Planned by Citygrove Roadside and Extra.
Babworth Apleyhead (north-west corner) 1990 1993 Withdrawn. Planned by Strait (Properties) Ltd, to be positioned on the old roundabout.
Durham (Bowburn) J61 (north-east corner) 1990s 1994 Built. Planned by Fina.
Norman Cross J16 (south-west corner) 1992 1994 Withdrawn. Planned by L. Blackman & Sons. Appeal withdrawn.
Aldborough Gate J48 (south-west corner) 1992 1995 Refused. Planned by Forte / Welcome Break. Refused because it's agricultural land. Taken to 1995 inquiry.
Redwings J14-15 (southbound) 1993 1994 Withdrawn. Planned by Forte / Welcome Break. Appeal withdrawn. Upgrade of an existing site.
Toll Bar J15 (northbound) 1993 1994 Withdrawn. Planned by Forte / Welcome Break. Appeal withdrawn. Upgrade of an existing site.
Sawtry J15 1993 1994 Withdrawn. Planned by Thornfield Roadside Ltd.
Alconbury J14 1993 1994 Refused. Planned by Church Commissioners for England.
Theakston J50-51 (Gatenby Lane) 1993 1996 Withdrawn. Planned by Gatenby Lane Services Partnership.
Great Northern (Barton Park) J56 (south-east corner) 1993 2001 Withdrawn. Planned by Barton Park Ltd and Chartergate Estates Ltd. Upgrade of existing site. Taken to 1997 inquiry.
Wetherby (Kirk Deighton) J46 (north-east corner) 1993 2008 Built. Planned by Welcome Break, taken over by Granada. Taken to 1998 and 2005 inquiries.
Aldborough Gate J48 (north-west corner) 1993 1996 Refused. Planned by A And H Services Ltd, E A Sadler and G D & M J Trewhitt. Taken to 1995 inquiry.
Sprotbrough J36-37 1994 1994 Refused. Planned by Thomas Wade & Sons Ltd.
Brampton Hut J12 (south-east corner) 1994 1994 Refused. Planned by Nobel Industries Sweden (UK). Refused on appeal. Appears to be based on old road alignment.
Barnsdale Bar Wentbridge 1994 1994 Withdrawn. Planned by Forte / Welcome Break. Address suggests it is not the same as the existing site. Proposal called itself a "motorway" site.
Southways J50-51 1994 1996 Withdrawn. Planned by The Jopling Family Trust. Upgrade of an existing site.
Allerton J47 (south-east corner) 1995 1996 Refused. Planned by Extra. Taken to 1995 inquiry.
Selby Fork J42 1996 1996 Refused. Planned by Forte / Welcome Break. Upgrade of an existing site.
Bramham Crossroads J44 (north-east corner) 1996 2005 Refused. Planned by Hallam Land Management. Taken to 2005 inquiry.
Kirby Hill (Vale of York) J48-49 (Moor Lane) 1996 ongoing Approved. Planned by Heather Ive Associates and Applegreen-Welcome Break. Taken to 1998, 2005 and 2021 inquiries. Has included dual-sided and west-side plans.
Baldock J10 (north-east corner) 1990s 2001 Built.
Arkendale (Rougham Farm / Hollins Farm) J47-48 (Marton Lane) 2001 2005 Refused. Planned by J J Harrison (Properties).
Flaxby Covert J47 (south-west corner) 2001 2005 Refused. Planned by Extra. Taken to 2005 inquiry.
Baldersby Gate J50 (south-west corner) 2008 2010 Refused. Planned by Jaytee (Rainton) LLP & Bayford & Co Development Ltd.
Ripon (Baldersby Gate) J50 (west side) 2008 2021 Refused on appeal. Planned by Refined Estates Ltd and Moto. Taken to 2012 inquiry which ruled in favour of Wetherby, and 2021 inquiry which ruled in favour of Kirby Hill.
Leeming Bar J50-51 2009 ongoing Planned by Leeming Bar and Moto. Upgrade of existing site to motorway standard.
Sawtry J15 (south-west corner) 2010 ongoing Approved. Planned by Cardinal Property Services and Moto. Approved in 2021.
Broadsworth J37 (north-east corner) 2017 2019 Refused. Planned by Moto. Refused on appeal because it's green belt land.
Catterick (Pallett Hill Farm) J52 (north-east corner) 2018 ongoing Planned by Roadchef.
Selby J42 (north-west corner) 2019 ongoing Planned by Roadchef.
Newark Fernwood 2019 ongoing Approved. Planned by Welcome Break. Approved in 2020.
Darrington Darrington 2021 ongoing Rebuild of an existing site planned by Welcome Break. Opposed by Roadchef.

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