|TRANSPORT cafés, truckstops, greasy spoons, call them what you like, are part of our transport heritage. As important and significant, in some ways, as the trucks and the people who drove them. They represented a place to eat, take in a bit of warmth – and when you drove a draughty old truck with nothing other than a pitiful helping of heat from the engine to keep warm, anything was welcome – a chance to swap tales with your mates and, quite often, a place to get your head down for the night.
These places were born out of necessity when firms began taking on relatively long-distance runs. Several or more decades ago, lorries were slow, noisy and pretty uncomfortable places to be for any great period. The point was, though, that drivers quite simply had to be in them for hours on end, otherwise they would have made scant progress, especially considering the sometimes appalling roads they were expected to negotiate.
They just had to have a break and enterprising owners of roadside properties began opening up their homes to passing truckers, offering a bite to eat and cup of tea. There was nothing fancy about them – they earned the proprietors a few bob and brought cheer to drivers. It was almost a foregone conclusion that these roadside stops would flourish and progress into proper (relatively speaking) businesses, with purpose-built eating areas, dedicated staff and the equipment they needed to prepare meals. They also became landmarks and drivers would often treat them as semi-official stop-off points, knowing that arriving meant a certain part of their journey had been completed and they were guaranteed to happen upon a few mates.
With the advent of motorways and trucks that became ever increasingly reliable, comfortable and powerful, the need for truckstops diminished and it was, perhaps, inevitable that many would close. Sad, in lots of ways, but although buildings can have their doors shut for good, memories can’t be destroyed. Trucking Down Memory Lane: Transport Cafes recalls all the above by way of recollections, articles and many photographs that were first published in a long series of articles in Classic & Vintage Commercials Magazine. 100 pages, highly illustrated, softback