Britain’s most famous and celebrity-loved motorway service station is set to be demolished to create an electric vehicle-friendly replacement.
Once so prized that musicians mistook it for a London nightclub, the M1 station first opened in 1959 as Watford Gap Services.
Over the years it became known as the “Blue Boar” and was a popular meeting place for artists such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd making their way to their performances.
But it could soon be the end of an era as the UK’s first petrol station, now known as Roadchef, could soon be razed.
The site will be redeveloped to provide space for electric vehicle drivers to park while charging, build a two-story parking garage and be remodeled overall.
There are also plans to build luxury airport-style lounges where business people can stay.
But the proposal hasn’t been welcomed by everyone – some say the current Northamptonshire building brings back too many memories to let go.
In the 1960s, the train station became a meeting place for musicians and was even described as the “epicenter of cool”.
Sir Cliff Richard and Jimi Hendrix were also regulars at the site, which originally served as a wooden shed with a single petrol pump.
It was Hendrix who had initially heard so much about Blue Boar – because it was so well known – that he supposedly thought it was a London nightclub – until he visited it.
The spot also became such a celebrity hotspot that employees began collecting autographs.
Beatrice England, who worked the night shift at Blue Boar Services, had a book signed by Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, The Eagles, Dusty Springfield and Sir Cliff Richard.
Roy Harper, a well-known folk guitarist, even wrote a song called Watford Gap.
It included the lines: “It’s the Watford Gap, Watford Gap, a plate of grease and a load of crap.”
But Mark Fox, managing director of Roadchef, said it was now in desperate need of an upgrade.
He told that telegraph: “Watford Gap, the original petrol station which opened in 1959, simply needs to be demolished and rebuilt.
“The best-before date has passed, especially the Southbound one, which was the first to open. We’ve spent money on it over the years and it’s reasonably fine inside.
“But we are not proud of it being a physical asset and we want to build a new one on the corner of the site and then level the old one.”
Mr Fox said Roadchef had already designed a “contemporary modern building” to replace the building – complete with air conditioning and charging facilities for up to 150 cars.
However, Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, which campaigns to protect Britain’s famous post-1914 buildings, said Watford Gap was a cultural and architectural icon.
She said the demolition would be a great loss.
Ms Croft said: “Service stations such as Watford Gap celebrated the glamor and sense of opportunity that traveling within the UK offered, in most cases making innovative use of new materials, both robust concrete on the exterior and new synthetic fabrics, Carpets and curtains inside.” Vibrant colors inside.”
She added that perhaps history should be honored at the site once the building is gone.
She said: “Perhaps the saddest thing is that a lot of what made these places so exciting and special came from the graphics, the furniture and the feeling that at the time they were the only place open to lonely revelers together.” with a real mix of people. Everything is long gone.
“We need a real counterpoint to the mediocrity and monotony that we normally endure at gas stations today.”
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Roadchef is currently negotiating a new lease with the Department for Transport (DfT), which owns both the north and south sides, before redevelopment begins.
A DfT spokesman said it was in discussions with operators but strongly supported steps to expand charging options.