We have set ourselves the task of writing a cultural and landscape history of the Leicestershire section of the M1 motorway and its well-known and beloved service station, Leicester Forest East (LFE for short). This is no easy task, and is one that we are asking your help in creating.
Landscape histories are not normally written about new roads such as the M1, and what one might call ‘non-places’-in the sense that people tend simply to pass through rather than see them as destinations-such as service stations. On the other hand, cultural geographers have been helpfully reminding us that these are very interesting places. And it does not take long for the rest of us, if we pause for a brief moment, to realise just how much these places have contributed to our lives, often in more profound ways than those places to which visitors are usually attracted. How many of us are affected by the existence of places as iconic as Stonehenge or the Tower of London? Not many, it might be wagered. But indisputably, today’s Britain would not be the same without its motorways. And more locally Leicestershire society, the economy, and its landscape have all be indelibly changed-both for better and worse-since the opening of the motorway between 1964 and 1965, and the opening of the service station on Valentine’s Day 1966. These places, then, are as worthy of investigation as any medieval castle, stately home or prehistoric standing stone. Perhaps more so given how much they influence our daily lives.
We will be looking through the archives to tell the story of the Leicestershire section of the motorway through this blog site. This is a developing resource. We hope that you will find something of interest here already-we can almost guarantee that you will discover something that you did not know already. But do keep coming back to see what more we uncover. We also want your recollections, reminiscences, and other memories of the early days of the motorway, its construction and its early use. And photographs or videos too so that we can create a brand new people’s archive (see Something to Share?).
We do hope that you will find something of interest, or at least something to ponder as you race through the Leicestershire landscape at 70 mph (or 90mph if you are the Chairman of the Liberal Party–see Newspaper Cuttings!) or stop for a few minutes to enjoy the facilities at LFE.