About the Site
Motorway Services Online (or MSO if you're a fan of unpronounceable acronyms) is the largest and most up-to-date site dedicated to the unironically fascinating subject of motorway services in the UK and Ireland.
The aim is quite simply to collect as much information on them as possible, and in doing so being able to help road users plan journeys and hopefully to unearth some little-known facts about the history of some of these much-unloved places. We look at exactly why they were built, how they have changed and how they are changing.
Many pages of the site can now be edited by registered members in order to make sure the information is as up-to-date as can be.
Technical specifications for the website can be found at Special:Version.
Why was Motorway Services Online set up?
Service stations used to compete by trying to get the best reputation. In the early 2000s we noticed that they were now starting to compete over who had the best partner brands. The problem was you could only use this to your advantage if you researched every single service station and weighed them up against each other. We were the first website to do exactly that - and to collect the other information people needed too - and have it all in one place.
While the general quality of most service stations may have improved, people still have their reasons for preferring one or avoiding another. We try to make the good and bad points obvious, and in doing so hope to encourage the industry to improve further.
The site still stands by all these original aims, but over time we have unlocked a treasure-trove of old photos and forgotten brand names, like Happy Eater. We are most proud of our occasional serious research into the social and architectural reasonings behind the way these soulless places are, and how they have evolved.
We exist to share information, not to help our favourite chains.
Who uses Motorway Services Online?
As well as helping travellers to plan their breaks, this site has been used by researchers looking for history or news, and by people who are just interested and have a little bit of spare time. Its information has been cited in a number of newspapers including The Guardian, Truck & Driver, as well as The Daily Mail.
Our information is frequently consulted by highway authorities such as National Highways and government departments, links get posted on travel and transport forums around the world and we are aware of at least one operator who used our information to update their own internal records!
The website itself is kept up-to-date by a team of volunteers. We have been called "service station trainspotters" which we will take as a compliment; it sounds a lot more glamorous than the reality of spending a day in an archive reading architectural notes for 50-year-old buildings. Yes we do just drive around the country making notes, but it's usually on phones rather than little notebooks.
Our contributors are a diverse group of people, but we are aware that we cater for a niche interest and people like to assume that all niche interests are exclusively associated with neurodiversity. We have written a short page about the special relationship between transport trivia and autism. It's heartening to hear that this website has helped so many people with their passions.
Whether you're a casual reader, a regular contributor or a silent rater, this website would have packed up a long time ago if people weren't using it. We're very grateful to you all.
OK then, so where's that disclaimer?
Starting with the copyright, take a deep breath, here we go:
By using the website you agree to the following (which may be edited at any time, although any changes will always be marked on the page Special:RecentChanges). Even so, regular visitors are advised to check this page regularly to ensure they are aware of the conditions.
All content is © Motorway Services Online ('the website', 'this website'), unless it is stated otherwise. This includes all text, images and photos. You may quote this website, but when doing so you must make it clear that you are quoting from it and include a link back to the page it came from.
As we write about the history of a commercial industry, it is inevitable that we will refer to brand names, slogans and images which are registered trademarks. We do not claim to have the rights to any brand. All rights remain with each business's owners. Our archive does include some old publicity, as might be expected of a retail history website; this is hosted to provide additional context to the atmosphere at the time. As it only reinforces our lengthy original text, we believe this qualifies as fair use.
Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided on this website is accurate, but no guarantee is made. Information is provided in good faith, out of a genuine desire to help. The nature of the subject means that Motorway Services Online often has to catch up with changes on the ground and some finer details (such as parking prices, availability of certain facilities and certain database entries) may remain outdated for some time.
Like any source of information, this website should be used with care. We cannot accept liability for any inconvenience, losses, legal issues or safety concerns which may arise as a result of information provided by this website to yourself or to others. You are responsible for ensuring that you and any companions remain safe, legal and compliant with the landowner's policies before acting on any advice given by this website. This is also true for information provided in emails owned by this website, on official Motorway Services Online social media pages and on any other publications made by this website or in this website's name.
Any source of information other than those four listed should not be assumed to be endorsed by us even if the source claims otherwise. Links to third party resources are provided for the reader's benefit but we cannot be held responsible for those websites' content. Our own visitor contributions are monitored but may not have been verified at the time of reading.
If you believe that this website is carrying incorrect or other information that it shouldn't be hosting, please get in touch. We act to address any such issues as soon as possible. In particular, we are keen to work with the providers of facilities to address any concerns you may have - our guide may be of interest.
Finally, if you have any queries, don't hesitate to contact us.
Use Of Our Photos
If you open the details of most of the photos on this website, it will tell you underneath who took it. If this includes the phrase "for Motorway Services Online", you are permitted to use that photo on your website and publication, provided you credit "Motorway Services Online" (if online) or "motorwayservices.uk" / "motorwayservices.ie" (if printed) where appropriate. Websites must also ensure they have saved their own copy of the photo, rather than 'hotlinking'.
If the photo credit doesn't include "for Motorway Services Online", we may still be able to licence you the image, but check with us because we'll need to get permission first. Some of those photos may already include a link to the original source or licence.
Many images on this website carry a small watermark. This does not imply Motorway Services Online created the image, but helps highlight when other people are using our work*. Higher resolution and non-watermarked images may be made available when requested.
* - incredibly, one well-known service station operator tried using our photos to promote their sites, and we knew they were ours because they had the watermark. That's why we watermark!
Use Of Our Data
If you're going to be making money from our data, it's only fair that you include a link to our website. This applies to online newspaper articles, monetised videos, books, and anything similar where it couldn't exist if we hadn't done the work. Press releases that are based on our data should mention us in the copy. It's only fair. This includes you, Reach Plc.
Other than that, we are reasonably relaxed about how people use the information we provide.
There's no need to speak to us first about your project first, but you are welcome to contact us and we will help you if we can. This would be especially wise if your project is based on a large amount of our data, because we can advise you of the pitfalls and copyright traps that others have fallen for. We are unlikely to endorse or promote a project we weren't involved with. We are particularly open to helping student projects, as much as we can.
User Generated Content
Motorway Services Online allows individuals to register an account, to submit contributions, and also to register with CommentBox to leave feedback through the CommentBox app. For legal reasons we require everybody who wishes to register with the website to either be aged 16 or over, or to be supervised by somebody who is.
We expect all user contributions to be submitted in good faith. This means any contribution:
- should be accurate to the best of your knowledge
- shouldn't be infringing on any laws (including copyright restrictions)
- should be trying to improve the website, rather than deliberately degrade it
- shouldn't be trying to impersonate somebody you are not, or providing contact information (email addresses) that don't work
Where we suspect that these rules are being deliberately broken, we reserve the right to remove any contribution, terminate any registered account associated with it, and/or remove access to the website, with or without any further communication. In practice, this is rarely necessary.
Somebody who contributes to Motorway Services Online in any form is regarded as a "contributor". Contributors are volunteers who act in their own capacity; Motorway Services Online does not tell people how to behave and contributors must appreciate that Motorway Services Online can't take responsibility for their actions or for any consequences of their contribution. For this reason, contributors must not imply that they are working under any contract to Motorway Services Online, or that their actions or opinions are in any way endorsed by Motorway Services Online or by its owner. Third parties who have a concern with somebody who claims to be a contributor to Motorway Services Online should take this up with the person directly in the first instance; Motorway Services Online may offer assistance as an intermediary body if it believes this would be beneficial.
On this note, contributors are reminded that page edits, edit summaries, usernames and CommentBox reviews are all publicly viewable, and therefore shouldn't be used to share personal or confidential information, as once something is publicly viewable we cannot control who sees it.
For the avoidance of doubt, we would encourage any contributor who works in the service station industry to follow the advice given by your employer, which likely includes not naming who you work for and not leaking confidential information. If you want to disclose information to us off the record then you can always contact us privately, and we will respect embargoes.
Motorway Services Online will not ask you for personal information unless it really needs it, and if it does, it will handle that information fairly and reasonably. Like many large websites, we do work with third-party apps (namely Google) to ensure we can provide the full range of features that readers may expect. GDPR requires that we explain each aspect of our activity in great detail, which we will now do.
During this policy we will repeatedly state that information will not be passed on. This comes with a single exception for circumstances where we are required to disclose data by a court of law or law enforcement official.
Registration: If choosing to register an account to contribute to this website, you are asked to provide a username (alias) and email address. This allows us to identify your contributions and to contact you with any queries or urgent notices. You can also choose to accept notifications by email. There are no mailshots, and this data is not passed on.
Our software does allow other members to interact with you, either between usernames (on "message walls", also called "talk pages") or, if enabled, via a form which allows members to send you an email without revealing the destination email address. For security reasons our database will also note the IP address used to make the registration. Separate to this, we also use hCaptcha to protect us from malicious registrations - this is the well known "I am not a robot" test, which is detailed below.
Our software will also allow you to provide other details, such as your gender and time zone, which are purely for customisation reasons. You can update all this data at the page Special:Preferences. You are asked to ensure that your contact details are up to date, and you are advised to choose a password that is tough and unique. This profile data will remain on our database so that you can access it any time. Your password is encrypted and we cannot access it. We can't take liability for any issues caused by an unauthorised user correctly guessing your password, although they would only gain access to the limited profile information described so far. You can increase your account security by enabling two-factor authentication after logging in
You should only register on behalf of somebody else if you have their full permission. We would generally recommend that business users create individual accounts to avoid sharing passwords.
Please remember that if you edit a page on this website, our edit log will create a permanent public record of which alias made that change, under what is known as a "page history". This allows us to easily evaluate changes. Although this log is "permanent", the alias can be changed where a user no longer wishes to be associated with the website, but the record itself cannot be easily removed. You are also responsible for any metadata that may be attached to any pictures you upload on our website. Our server will save your photo file with any other data you attach to it, and that data will be accessible with the photo.
Contact Form: If you send us an email via the website, we need your name and email address to be able to reply. We also need sufficient information to be able to answer your query. We do not forward your details to any third party, with one exception: we frequently receive emails which were supposed to be sent to a motorway service area operator, highway authority or similar third party. Where we suspect this mistake has been made, we may try to send your enquiry to the correct organisation. This will only happen when we suspect an error is made, in the first instance, you should ensure you are contacting the correct organisation; we already outline clearly what we cannot help with. Information you provide us by email may be saved by us to assist with any follow-up enquiries. We do not engage in marketing practices.
Your Location: If you want to generate a map of motorway services near you, we will need to ask for your current location. If you give us permission, your current coordinates will be added to the page URL as a variable. We don't record coordinates, and have no reason to. If you choose to share that URL (the page address), your coordinates (at that particular time) will be shared too, as they are part of the URL. You can disable that and the whole feature by unchecking 'show my current location' in the map search options, in which case the location variable will be set straight to "no". If you look for directions to a service station it will also default to your current location, which will be cleared as soon as you tap on it to type something else. If you leave your current coordinates and ask for directions, those coordinates will then be passed to Google Maps to generate directions.
Maps: All of our embedded ("in-house") maps are provided by OpenLayers. This does not record any of your information, but may show in your cache and browsing history, as will map providers like ArcGIS and OpenStreetMap. Sometimes we will provide links to Google Maps. Google Maps is an external service not affiliated with this website. You do not need to open the links to Google Maps if you don't want to use Google Maps.
Ratings: When you choose to rate a service area or operator, our database will record the subject, value, date and IP address. This allows us to process the rating, and to protect against malicious entries. This information will be saved for as long as it is contributing to that rating.
External Resources: As you would expect from an information website, we frequently link to other resources, including service area operator websites, mapping websites, social media websites, highway authority websites and an e-commerce website, RedBubble. You are responsible for reviewing the policies and conditions of those websites, and we do not necessarily endorse their policies or practices.
Embedded Third Parties: We have removed as many third parties as possible. Some users who are not logged in members will see messages from Google Adsense and Google's subsidiary, DoubleClick. This is detailed under "cookies". We also embed the well known third party service jQuery, which contains files that teach your browser how to make some features of Motorway Services Online work. This service does not take note of your activity or personal data, but it may show up on your browsing history or cache files. The same is true of two quiz pages, where we embed a quiz that is provided by FlexiQuiz.
Appearances In Public: As we host photos which were taken in publicly accessible places, it is inevitable that we will hold photos which include members of the public. The purpose of each photo is explained in the caption and it would be taken with the implied consent of the landowner, insomuch as the photos were taken from a publicly accessible place. If you wish to request removal of a published photograph which clearly shows you as an individual, please contact us with full details including a link to the photograph and a description of where you are in the photograph. This shall be treated as personal data, as outlined further on in this policy, and we will consider all requests based on how visible the identity is. We may request proof of identity.
Log Files: Our internal records may keep recent records of IP addresses and their associated countries, page views, browsers and their limitations, operating systems, and sources. This allows us to monitor website usage and identify malicious users.
Cookies: Cookies are very small files which are saved on your computer or device, along with other items that your browser collects. Almost all websites set cookies and the vast majority are harmless; they are used to remember your settings when you next visit, or to collect anonymous usage data. However, as you move between many different websites, cookies can build up a considerable profile of your interests, which makes them qualify as "personal data", which we are required to explain in detail.
The "session cookies" that we set are tabmsasc_wikidb_session, UseCDNCache, cpPosTime and UseDC. These ensure your preferences remain the same as you move from one page to another, or if you leave the website and come back. They are programmed to be removed when you close your browser window.
The cookies tabmsasc_wikidbUserID and tabmsasc_wikidbUserName are required to ensure that logged in users remain logged in. This is removed after a set period, normally 30 days, unless the user has requested that they stay logged in for longer.
Logged in members may also see cookies related to VEE and wikieditor. These remember your preferences when using the software's page editor.
Some readers of the website will see advertisements provided by Google Adsense. It's not our intention to display more advertisements that we need to, which is why they are only shown on sections of the site with a high 'bounce rate' and we ensure that people who have registered and logged in with us generally don't see any adverts. Doing this helps reduce the total number of adverts shown, and is the easiest way for us to identify and thank our regular readers. For that reason alone we always encourage our regular readers to register with us, even if they don't want to use any additional features.
For those readers who aren't logged in, the decision on which advertisements to show may be based on the IP address and its associated city, internet service provider, the browser and its limitations or interests demonstrated in cookie files. Those cookies are operated under the DoubleClick DART name, and do not include the examination or recording of any personally identifiable information, but may include topics of interest; therefore the websites you have previously viewed could influence the adverts you see. Google may both create and read those cookies while you are using this website. An opt-out system is provided for all websites using DoubleClick which is available at www.doubleclick.com. A consent form is provided to new users on the website, and a button to update your preferences is included at the bottom of the page. More information on how Google services may use your information is available at policies.google.com; users may opt out of personalised advertising by visiting Ads Settings. You can opt out of some third-party vendors' uses of cookies for personalised advertising by visiting www.aboutads.info.
Many of our pages allow visitors to leave comments and reviews. This system is powered by CommentBox.io. They have a lengthy privacy statement (section "The Plugin"). In short, they do not collect any data just from you reading the comments. If you wanted to leave your own comment, then this would need you to log in, either through a well-known third party or by registering with them. This would require cookies and the collection of data necessary for you to log in and leave a comment. This is an entirely optional feature.
It is possible to access Motorway Services Online while refusing all cookies, although we would not recommend it as it disables the features mentioned so far. This can be done using the privacy settings or preferences of most browsers. This is also where you can delete existing cookies. It is perhaps easier to use "private browsing" or "incognito" mode, in which case any cookies would be removed by the end of your session. In any case, anybody who does not agree with Motorway Services Online's stated policies is instructed not to use its services.
Security: While we make every effort to ensure the data discussed on this page is handled securely and responsibly, it would be remiss not to state what steps are to be taken if an unauthorised user has been known to access or acquire the data that we hold. In such an instance we would notify the people affected (via email where possible, or via a statement on this website where it is not), as well as notifying any regulator or police body, depending on the nature of the breach, as soon as practically possible.
Your Rights: Motorway Services Online has an identified Data Controlling Officer (DCO). Further details are available upon contact. You have the right to request the information we hold, to correct any mistakes in our records and to request the removal of information in our records. You can download a copy of all the data associated with your user account by visiting the "Preferences" page (under 'Settings' when you are logged in); you can update this data yourself using the same Preferences section. The only other user data we hold is your contributions, which can be viewed at the page Special:Contributions. Information that has been provided to CommentBox via us can all be removed via the settings (profile) button in the CommentBox app.
If you for any reason this does not fulfil your request, you can contact us by email. You will need to provide enough identifying information for us to identify the records in question remembering that we don't, for example, require full names, so that is unlikely to help us. Please remember that this website is operated by a sole person who will investigate your request as soon as practically possible. In line with GDPR policy on Subject Access Requests we do not normally charge for a request, but may do so where it is large, time-consuming or repetitive. We may also request proof of identity. These rights extend to any information about you which is publicly visible on the website (for reasons discussed so far), and while we may remove or anonymise those records, please note that we only have limited control over other websites which may have saved copies of our public pages.
If you are not happy with how your data has been handled, you have the right to contact the supervisory authority for the region in which you live. For the UK this is the Information Commissioner's Office and for Ireland this is the Office of the Information Commissioner. They will most likely ask whether you have contacted us in the first instance, especially if your circumstance is covered by the paragraph above, and we would encourage you to do so.