Lorry drivers and other commercial users eagerly awaited the building of the new motorway network. Some sense of the anticipation that preceded their construction and the facilities that they would provide the long-distance traveller can be guaged from reports in the pages of Commercial Motor magazine. Here are four extracts relating to LFE. What we see is the drivers’ interest in being fed (not in the post Conran-designed restaurant but in transport cafes), and access to fuel, parking space and recovery services. Fears over winter road closures were also high on their agenda. These extracts thus provide a very different impression of LFE than from th at provided by the visionaries and food critics.
25 Dec 1963, p. 11: ‘Ross Service on M1: A restuarant, grill counter and two cafeterias, all contained in a bridge spanning the motorway, are to be features of the service area development at Leicester Forest East on the Crick-Markfield section of the London-Yorkshire motorway (M1), to be carried out by Ross Group Ltd. of Grimsby. This is Ross Group’s first venture into service area development, and their application has been selected by the Minister of Transport from a number of acceptable offers. They will also provide, on each side of the motorway, a transport cafe and a petrol filling station.’
17 Dec. 1965, p. 20: Ross Group Service Project: The Ross Group’s M1 restaurant and service station project, which spans the motorway at Leicester Forest East, will be launched on February 1 with the opening of two cafeterias and two service stations. There will be parking for 300 vehicles.’
4 March 1966, p. 67: ‘M1 services: A 24-hour, every-day garage forecourt service, together with emergency breakdown, heavy recovery and “get you home” repair services are now operating at the new motorway service of Ross Services Ltd. on M1 at Leicester Forest East. The services cover the 40-mile northernmost stretch of the motorway from Watford Gap to Kegworth.’
25 Nov. 1966, p. 56: ‘The winter maintenance of these [new motorways] has been planned at the same time as the actual highway, and at service areas there are works maintenance units in which are contained salt and snow-clearing equipment. I [Iain Sherriff] visited the unit at Leicester Forest East and formed the impression that motorway traffic should experience very little real trouble this winter.’