Newport Pagnell Services

Opened: 15 August 1960
Original owner: Forte
Current Owner: Welcome Break
Location: Between J14-15


Originally to be Cars only- with Watford Gap services being for Lorries only. The pair of services being the only services on the M1 at the time.

Fortes Motorway services were managed for many years from offices at Newport Pagnell

Had to open two hours early as queues of curious public had formed! On opening day it took a while to get a table as many people had come out to see the services and experience the novelty.

Egon Ronay was not complimentary during his survey of services in 2000. He said of the all the All-Day Breakfast: “One of my three colleagues remarked that it’s called ‘ all day’ because it tastes as if it has been hanging around all day.”

The Northbound site currently has a 5 Star Loo of the year Award 2003 along with 33 others in the road transport category. (find best loos overall)

Acorrding to a Smiths song, Morrissey lost his bag here- (the “Smiths” track “Is It Really So Strange” contains the line “I lost my bag in Newport Pagnell”. As the song is describing a journey from north to south, (and back) – its normally assumed by Smiths fans that the line referrers to a stop-off at the service area.

A little bit about this service area and policing the motorway when it opened is available on this site

Entrance to Newport Pagnell back in the 1960’s. The block at the front (with yellow faced windows) is the Grill & Griddle restaurant, which was waitress service.
Here is the entrance, and that is probably a member of staff offering assistance to the motorist. You can either directly enter the shop using the right hand door, or enter the Grill and Griddle Waitress Service Restauant using the door on the right.
Heres we zoom in on the picture at the top of the page. Did you notice the roadworks? part of the lane is completely missing. They have closed 2 lanes to do this work, and there is no tail back. Those days are truely gone…!

You can also see some outbuildings in this picture, Most of these have gone now, but the main building has extended over where the road is now.newport pagnell 80s
Newport Pagnell in the early 1980’s. This looks like the southbound side taken from the north side. The facade has been modernised. (photo by Michael Evans)

Hard to know what to say about Newport Pagnell. The building, being the first doesn’t offer much room for the operator to play with the environment, where as more modern buildings are more flexible and use more natural light. However, they made the best of what they have and it does the job. Thats not so say its unpleasant- it is clean, tidy, offers all you need at a motorways services. Clean loos, shop, cafe, coffee shop, arcade & illegal trader in the car park 😉 The cafe area gets most of the natural light and the best view for relaxing in. All you need, nothing more, nothing less.
The hotel Northbound is worth a mention. Get a glimpse of it as you depart- from the outside looks very much 1950’s American Motel style with balconies. Very charming, and different to every modern hotel building you’ll find on a Motorway.

Received votes and a sample of comments: (archived from old site)

People who prefer this MSA 12
People happy to visit 5
People who avoid this MSA 7
Selection of comments received Northern, yuck 29/05/2005 18:13:23
Food was disgusting and lukewarm, trays dripping with water, tables not cleared even though it was a quiet time. Lavatories were scruffy. The only good points are the attractive setting and good dog walking areas. 15/01/2006 21:11:11
24/06/2006 14:20:04
best ive seen,fondest memories. 03/10/2006 18:01:32
This was once a great futuristic looking building in that 50s style. But has now been ruined by boxy modernisation. The only good part is the glass bridge,but even this has now had orange vinyl applied to its windows to ruin the effect 12/04/2007 11:44:39
Love it, doesont look like a plasticy building like the others. Fits with its surroundings go there evry year on way to northampton. Brill 25/11/2007 11:19:10
Parking eye only clock your first entrance and last exit , DO NOT make multiple visits in one day, you will get a £50 ticket in post. they will not take any notice of any appeal or proof of multiple visits, They only want your money. AVOID 18/04/2008 23:58:24
Food shops worth a few minutes of anybodys time. 10/05/2008 18:12:34


  1. I used to work here part time at weekends and school holidays from 1961-1964 shortly after it opened. On page 2, the top photograph is of the Grill and Griddle photographed from the exit of the northbound petrol station. The middle photograph does show a member of staff talking with a motorist. The Grill and Griddle could only be found “northbound”. A fillet steak was 19-11d, plus vegetables! However, the entrance to the shop is to the left, NOT the right as stated. The car is a Vauxhall “PB” Cresta produced at Luton from 1963-1965. (Served a 5 year apprenticeship there at this time).

    The top photograph on page 3 taken by Michael Evans IS the southbound side photographed from the northbound and was exactly the same as when the service area first opened.

    • I worked there too in 1962. Used to go to school on Fridays in Bedford, then change and ride my Lambretta to Newport Pagnell and work overnight, then change and go back to school on Saturday mornings. It’s hard to believe now, but it was quite an exiting place to go in those days! Often used to see the pop groups of the day calling in on their way back from gigs.
      Smoked many a 3.00 am ciggy on that bridge watching the occasional car go by.
      Happy days.

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