Watford Gap Services turned 50 today, celebrating by selling cups of tea at 1959 prices – and even getting its own musical. The infamous site was the UK’s first motorways service area when it
first opened on the same day as the M1, and the 193-mile road connecting Leeds to London would have no doubt been a long, boring drive without the site and its original restaurant (pictured) to break up the journey.
Roadchef, owners of the site, said today that as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations tea would be priced at 6p a cup, just like it was in old money when it first opened. Meanwhile, the BBC as commissioned a musical film about the services – Watford Gap The Musical. Starring amateurs with links to the site in Northants, it screens tonight at the site
Roadchef said it was also lobbying the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary to include Watford Gap as a recognised phrase, highlighting where the south ends and the north begins. It has created digital and print petitions in a bid to gain support for inclusion of the phrase and created a signpost to mark the ‘official’ gap between the two territories.
The services has had a colourful history, and in the early years visitors included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Gerry & The Pacemakers and The Searchers.
Roadchef CEO Simon Turl said: ‘Watford Gap is undoubtedly the phrase most commonly associated with the division between the north and south of England. And since this year marks its 50th anniversary, we think it’s about time it got the recognition it deserves, so it would be fantastic if Watford Gap could be officially recognised in such a prestigious publication.’