Motorway Services Online

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London Gateway services


M1 between J2 and J4

Signposted from the road.



map and directions


Single site located between junctions with access to both sides.

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This is the motorway service area in North London. For a service area near London Gateway Port, see Orsett.

It's sometimes forgotten that London Gateway is the first service area on the M1. The 'gateway' offers a hotel, coach interchange and a final coffee stop before the capital.


Catering: Burger King, Starbucks, Subway, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks on the Go Shops: Waitrose & Partners, WHSmith Amenities: Ramada, Game Zone, Meeting Room, Showers Outdoor Space: Grass area next to main building Charging Points: Applegreen Electric 150kW CCS; GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2 Forecourt: Welcome Break, The Good Bakery, Rollover, Starbucks on the Go, LPG (Calor)

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 for a further 24 hours and HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £32 (or £35 to include a £12 meal voucher).

Prices can be paid in the shop, with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
Welcome Break
London Gateway Service Area
M 1 Motorway

Trivia and Design

Scratchwood Motor Chef.
The service area with Motor Chef branding, pictured in 1976.

See also: History:London Gateway

The service area has a strange knot of slip roads at its entrance, owing to its unusual history, with sharp bends that can take an unprepared motorist by surprise and two ancient flyovers which are relatively-rarely used. It is a strange place: isolated with just a few works units for company, bordering a large urban area but separated by a high-speed and commuter railway line that nobody has ever considered making use of.

The site's small buildings and large grass areas - which were part of its appeal when it was built in 1969 - feel odd now this land is firmly within the clasp of the capital city. The on-site four-storey hotel gives some idea what the whole place would look like if it were sold to developers today.

Its unusual layout gives rise to some unusual signs. On the northbound side, the railway line leaves no space for any advance warning signs, and instead a last-minute branded sign explains that two entrances are available. On the southbound side, a branded sign used to beg motorists to "Reduce speed for Scratchwood Services". This was finally changed to a standard sign in 2015, but its original (and very dangerous) protruding concrete lighting arms remain.

The flyover system and its position on the urban fringe allowed the service area to act as the 2008 Low Emission Zone (now ULEZ) boundary. According to Transport for London, the boundary specifically bends around the service area.

11 miles away, the guns at HMS Belfast are positioned to fire at London Gateway services, to demonstrate the ship's maximum practical reach. When the ship was moored in 1971, the service area was chosen as a target in the hope that the quirky decision would prove interesting for years to come. A plaque on the ship confirms the target.


The large, 31-bay coach interchange, with its own entrance to the main building, is an unusual feature at a service area. It was used by Shearings for a long while and allowed them to run routes across the country without them needing to waste time picking up in Central London. The interchange is now used by Corbel Coaches.

Welcome Break have held planning permission to build a Starbucks Drive Thru at the front of the main car park adjacent to the main amenity building since July 2018. 12 Tesla Superchargers (originally 32) and now 24 Applegreen Charging electric vehicle chargers are expected to be built in 2024.

Replacement Building

HMS Belfast may be needed, because Welcome Break are now investigating the possibility of demolishing all the service area buildings, and providing a new amenity building, drive thru and petrol station. As well as allowing them to replace the 50 year-old building with something easier to maintain and more suitable for takeaway units, the replacement would also allow them to rationalise the external area, which is currently spread out to suit high levels of HGVs and wealthy car drivers who never really materialised, and dominated by a coach interchange that is barely used.

The suggestion is that by moving all the facilities to the south, the northern half of the site could be used for something else, like warehouses or offices. Historically motorway service areas couldn't take advantage of their motorway access like that, but new planning regulations are more relaxed about this, and the land is especially valuable here, seeing as it's an urban area with good access to central London. A new government policy would also need to be carefully checked, as this now prohibits service areas from providing access to other developments.

As this would be a Welcome Break project rather than part of any bigger picture, any reconstruction is unlikely to affect the tortuous motorway connection; the industrial units are likely to stay; and there will be no new railway connection, no matter how tempting it may sound in theory. In fact, it has been suggested that the more direct northbound entry would be removed. The hotel would be unaffected.

The proposal is only a concept, and any work wouldn't happen for a long time. An idea what the new layout could be like can be gained from Sarn Park, which was recently rebuilt by Welcome Break to make it more manageable.


noneServices on the M1Toddington (26 miles)
South Mimms (M25 east, 17 miles)
Beaconsfield (M40 north, 25 miles)
Breakspear Way (A414 west, 13 miles)
noneWelcome Break servicesNewport Pagnell (39 miles)
South Mimms (M25 east, 17 miles)
Oxford (M40 north, 51 miles)

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