JD Wetherspoon opens first motorway pub – a loss of 'common sense'

A brand new pub has been opened on the side of a motorway for the first time in the country’s history, and the well-known Wetherspoons chain is responsible. As you might […]


A brand new pub has been opened on the side of a motorway for the first time in the country’s history, and the well-known Wetherspoons chain is responsible.

As you might imagine, the news has caused quite the uproar among road safety campaigners, who point to the obvious danger of drink driving as the principal concern given the inevitable ‘temptation to drink’.

The RAC has denounced the move as ‘risky and frankly unnecessary’, underlining the point that the decision is ‘at odds’ with public opinion as well as common sense. Pete Williams, RAC’s head of external affairs, acknowledged that while ‘the vast majority of motorists drive responsibly and alcohol is already readily available in shops at motorway services’, this inauguration is contrary to public opinion: a survey of 2,000 people revealed that just 12% are in favour of ‘motorway pubs’.

The Hope and Champion pub, Beaconsfield

The Hope and Champion pub, Beaconsfield

The RAC amongst others is baffled as to why ‘of all places to open a pub’, JD Wetherspoon has spent more than £1.1 million on this one, called ‘the Hope and Champion’, located at junction 2 on the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

So, why the spending and why at a petrol station? I can’t for the life of me figure this one out.

Of course, some are more likely to drink and drive than others, but when the vast majority does not want a motorway pub, why do it?

I’m with the campaigners on this one. As Ellie Pearson of safety campaign group Brake puts it, ‘the opening of a pub on a motorway is deeply concerning and presents a potentially deadly temptation for drivers’.

Think about it. This particular ‘Wetherspoons’ may well be offering itself as more of a ‘restaurant’ kind of pub, but isn’t the chain more renowned as a ‘stop off for a beer’ or ‘pre-game’ kind of place?

I can just picture it now. You’re the driver, and whether you’re on your own or in the company of others, there is that constant temptation to ‘stop for a quick one’ to unwind after a hard day’s work. Your mates can have one, but you can’t. Because you’re the driver. Plus, the younger you are, the more stick you get for not having ‘just one pint’. At that age, where your new ‘freedom’ entitles you to get a cheeky pint whenever you like, one harmless beverage can turn into one more, and ‘maybe another’ until it’s an after-work habit that can’t be stopped as it ‘keeps you sane’.

I may be exaggerating, but you can’t say that right there isn’t a legitimate vision. I can only foresee problems coming out of this particular pub launch. And if I’m proved wrong and it actually generates a profit, there’ll still be much earache from the local authorities – not to mention the grief from the families of the inevitable victims.

Is the country’s first motorway pub a needed place for motorists to wind down, or the stupidest idea in a long time? Let us know your thoughts in comments.