Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Blue Boar at Watford Gap

Running through the rain back to your coach.
Do you remember it? Britain's first motorway service area at Watford Gap on the M1 and it was locally owned, rather than run by a major company. The owners ran a petrol filling station on the nearby A5 road and were given the chance of running the Watford Gap service station as compensation for the loss of trade that they would suffer when the motorway was opened. 
The restaurant was waitress service.
This loss of trade was serious. We used to travel up the A5 to visit cousins in Derby and one of our landmarks was to look out for a transport cafe which had 'May's Cafe' painted on the roof tiles. Within a very short time of the motorway opening, May's Cafe closed its doors.
We stopped at Watford Gap services on our way up to Leicester today. It is no longer owned by Blue Boar but still displays that reassuring run-down and decayed look that it always seems to have done. Perhaps my memory is coloured by the times I got stuck there when hitch-hiking up the M1. On one momentous journey two of us ended up at Watford Gap, going northwards, at 2 a.m. and there we stuck till 6 a.m. In the late 1960s, at two in the morning you would see a truck or car perhaps once every four or five minutes.
Watford Gap is a junction so you have to tell the drivers that
you don't want to go up the M45 to Birmingham.
Inside the services I saw displayed on the wall the above four photographs which were taken by a photographer called Martin Parr during the 1980s.

It brought it all back. 
If you want to know more about Watford Gap or indeed any of Britain's motorway services, you should click here

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