Motorway services facts and figures
Arguably every page on this website contains trivia about the UK's motorway service areas. This page summarises the key facts, which may one day come up in an alarmingly niche pub quiz.
The highest: Abington on the M74 and A74(M), at about 240 metres (800 feet)
Oldest / Newest
Watford Gap and Newport Pagnell on the M1 both started selling fuel on 2 November 1959. The restaurant at Newport Pagnell opened on 15 August 1960, making it the UK's first motorway restaurant. (full story)
The newest motorway service area is currently Rugby on the M6, which opened on 30 April 2021.
Biggest / Smallest
Old Inns on the M80 is probably the UK's smallest motorway service area. Great Ponton on the A1 might be the smallest place in the UK to get full "Services" signage. In terms of facilities, Leicester Markfield on the A511 has much less to offer, but it still manages to be bigger. (full breakdown)
Longest / Shortest
The longest official name for a service area is "Heart of Scotland (Harthill)" on the M8. Without the brackets, Leicester Forest East and Blackburn with Darwen would be joint longest, but Harthill's brackets are clearly part of its name. Swansea West is longer if you count the full sign including the Welsh translation, but that's very clearly a translation.
How many service stations are there?
As you might expect, it can get very complicated. Visit the page How Many for a full breakdown.
This entries aren't really pub quiz trivia, but fits with our geography theme.
Which service areas were built in an urban area?
Many service areas have been built near settlements which have since grown around them. Newport Pagnell is a good example of that.
Washington was the first service area to be deliberately placed inside an urban area. Bridgwater is a much more recent example, although it's more industrial. There are many examples of A-road service areas that were developed along with the land around them, and a few examples of city centre petrol stations that were questionably chosen to be signed as full A-road service areas, like Shooters Hill in Central London.
A lot of people know that London Gateway and Heston are the only motorway service areas inside the M25. London Gateway is only just within Greater London, while Heston is firmly within both the boundary and the ULEZ zone. There are no motorway service areas within the boundaries of Birmingham or Manchester.
Which service areas are the most remote?
Which service areas are in a National Park?
There are a few A-road service areas within National Parks. These include Petersfield in the South Downs, Rufus Stone and Picket Post in the New Forest and Whitehouse and Peartree Cross in Dartmoor. A few more are just over the border.