Tripping Out on Service Station Psychedelia

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The humble gas station is a bit of a time machine in its own right.

As David Cooper, co-director of the Centre for Place Writing, explains:

In many people’s eyes, motorway service stations are perceived to be what the French anthropologist Marc Auge influentially called “non-places”: sites of functionality and commerce that are devoid of cultural meaning; sites through which we fleetingly pass—to go to the toilet, to buy a sandwich or to stretch the legs of the dog—as we journey from one place to the next.

Motorway service stations, however, are much richer than the term “non-place” suggests. They are sites of personal memory, for example, triggering recollections of the promise of summer holidays and carefree days spent on the road.

They are also sites of collective cultural history, reminding us of a time when traveling at speed gestured towards the possibility of a utopian future.

So in their work for motor retailer JCT600, the British firm Code Computerlove decided to take a trip to the ’60s.

The subsequent psychedelic posters by Steph Clubb pay homage to the UK’s three biggest service stations, and associated icons of English road culture.

First up is Moto, and the Knutsford Services bridge that spans the roadway.

Next: the BP Pegasus Red Hill station, which was built in the 1960s, and is delightfully retro today.

Third: the Roadchef service station.

Fourth: Welcome Break, which featured a swan in its illustrated logo until a typographic rebrand.

And finally, the Lancaster (Forton) Services’ Pennine Tower, a 1960s service station that resembles an air traffic control tower.