Motorway Services Online

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How Things Work

'How Things Work' is our creative, catch-all title for our collection of articles which don't form part of the main database. They attempt to provide some background information about different aspects of motorway services, and a little bit about how they work.

Visitors to this section should also look at History, which pays particular attention to closed, unbuilt and the oldest service areas.

The Basics

Our first section examines the topics which we get asked about a lot. It's by far the best place to start!

Facts and Figures

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Opening Hours

Finding fuel, toilets and some-sort of food on the motorway is easy - for everything else it varies.

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Where Next?

Depending on the political mood, sometimes there are a lot of new service areas planned. Here's the current list.

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How Many Services Are There?

There are 95 motorway service areas in the UK - but that's with a few exceptions and explanations. We've got a breakdown of all the figures here.

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Biggest and Busiest

Cobham seems to be the obvious candidate for this one - but can we find the busiest day?

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Smallest and Quietest

This is a little more complicated: we've found some really tiny ones that people normally forget about.

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Timeline: Oldest and Newest

Find the oldest services, the newest, and everything else in between.

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Miles Apart: How Services Are Located

What's the longest motorway journey without any services? Why are motorway services always in awkward places? Which services are closest together? This page has you covered.

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How Services Are Named

What's in a name? Quite a lot of debate and a few controversies.

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More Quiz Trivia

If you want the most northern, the most southern, or anything in between - this page should have you covered.


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A lot of people tell us they consider a bridge to be the mark of a traditional service station. This is our guide to why they were built, and how they fell out of favour.

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Drive Thrus

Drive thrus are all over the motorway network - what took them so long?

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Electric Vehicle Charging Points

Information for electric vehicle drivers.


From fine dining to burgers and a few new ideas here and there.

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Hotels and Lodges

There's no such thing as a motel - according to the people who market them, anyway.

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The biggest argument found in a service station is over something so basic. This is our attempt to lay down the rules of parking.

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The little newsagents that became a big supermarket.

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Even we'll admit this isn't the most exciting page on the website, but lots of people ask about service station showers.

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It's the only facility everybody is looking for - so why are the toilets always at the back?

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Traffic Information

Putting traffic alerts on a TV screen doesn't sound revolutionary, but wait until you hear about the first effort.

Information and Guidance

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Government Policy (Regulations)

An explanation of how services are regulated and how the policy on them has changed over the years.

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How To Design A Service Station

A look at how service station design has evolved, and what the key factors in new service station design are.

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Mobile Apps

Information on the different discount and information apps offered to help and persuade motorway users.

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Motorway Myths

In our time online, we frequently see the same motorway myths being repeated time and time again, and we will struggle to keep quiet any longer.

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Price Point: Why are services so expensive?

A look at the other side of the coin as to why services are so expensive, and a few tips to get the better of them.

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Professional Drivers

Information written specifically for coaches and HGV drivers, listing some of the offers available to them.

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Road Signs

A non-technical guide to the different road signs used and who is responsible for them.

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A collection of pages which explain the meaning of various technical and unofficial terms relating to motorway services.

Lists and Analysis

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All The Service Stations

As you might expect, we have a lot of different lists of service areas, and that isn't that remarkable. But some people want to visit every service area in Britain, and we've prepared this page to help them out a bit.

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Best and Worst

Across the site we ask you to rate different service stations, and here you can see how they all stack up alongside each other.

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Ghost Slips

A lot of motorway users spot strange little features like this. Here's a list of half-built motorway service stations!

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MOT Numbers

A list of the working titles given to the original service stations. Spot the gaps in the pattern!

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Old Pubs

Many modern A-road services have adopted a building which pre-dates the road network as we would recognise it. This page lists them.

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Motorway services originally sold promotional postcards - find the best of them here.

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Rear Access

A list of all the services with a 'secret exit', as well as information on what these things are and who can use them.

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Smart Motorways

Smart motorways have been associated with considerable anxiety from motorists, so this website now highlights where service areas are available on them. That list is available here.

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Services on TV

A list of service areas which have played a significant role in a TV show.

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Services which have burnt down

As with any building, service stations can suffer from fire damage, but when it happens it tends to be a big talking point among motorway users. This page lists some of the incidents which have occurred.