A thing of myth and legend akin to the Loch Ness monster or a Brewdog regular not mentioning his ‘disruptive’ startup every other sentence; Pease Pottage Services. An aberration on the M23, a ghost of journeys past, present and future.
Cobham this is not, the haunted rest stop has evidence of amenities and apparent opening hours, but you will be hard pushed to find a single soul that has been serviced by the station. Signs for Pease Pottage may appear to be little more than siren songs for those that misjudged the stretch to Brighton and could do with a cola, yet there is apparently life behind the forecourt.
According to experts there is an entire village built around the world’s worst service station (Undercurrent Awards, 2020) and this shocking fact is only the start of the rabbit hole.
“Pease Pottage is an unspectacular village” reads the opening lines of Peaspottage.info. An inauspicious start for sure, yet beyond this banality that the depths begin to reveal themselves. The hopefully-satirical site first reels off a number of villages features including:
“Two pubs one pub (now the Grapes is closed) An internment camp; milk deliveries by Milk and More (formerly Dairy Crest, now owned by Müller; support your local multinational conglomerate!) A very short cycle lane; electricity and running water, but no mains gas (rumour has it that one of the newer estates does have a mains gas supply).”
Accompanying this is a run through of some fun facts regarding the village, including an apparent link to Marilyn Munroe (The film title Some Like It Hot was taken from a nursery rhyme about pease porridge, sometimes know as pease pottage – apparently) but the mystery continues in a number of tangential links.
Following through to a list of “Things Pease Pottage Does Not Have” eventually leads us to a hidden page regarding the service station itself. Our white whale.
Why would someone bury all references to a place’s most notable feature deep in a shonky website? Why would someone draw attention to its greatest shame?
We may never learn the motivation but we can learn that the Moto station is one of the smallest motorway services in the entire country (whether you can rightfully call it a services is apparently a contentious issue) and that it is, in fact, the only shop in the village.
One may assume that the website is nothing but a relic of an age gone by, a reminder of 90s Geocities domains and dial up tones, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
The site has recently been updated with a statement regarding the big bad lockdown. Sacre Bleu!
“In the year of our Lord 2020, it came to pass that a great pestilence befell the village of Pease Pottage.
“Villagers awoke on Tuesday 24 March to find that the coronavirus lockdown had begun,” the post reads, before making light of what appear to be personal gripes in a macabre turn of events.
“Parents and children could venture out in public for their daily permitted exercise without the risk of getting mangled by non-stop traffic..The car-bound non-resident commuters benefitted too, with many of them realising at last that their jobs were of limited social value. Even the weather was nice. It was wonderful, apart from all the people dying.”
All of this raises a number of questions; Who runs the page? Are they getting the help they need? and most importantly, does the services really properly exist?
Regrettably there are precious few answers offered, but one thing is for certain: If you ever find yourself a weary traveller on the M23, desperate for a Lucozade and a Ginsters, you must resist. You must ignore the signs for Pease Pottage, for only madness resides there. Madness… and Milk and More.