Food on the Move is a lustrously presented social and cultural history of the motorway service area in Britain. After finding the distant origins of this non-place in the coaching inns of the turnpike era, David Lawrence traces the germination of the service station as we know it back to the post-war bureaucratic imbroglio it emerged from.
Lawrence treats the MSA not as a static historical subject but as a complex, ever-changing institution formed through a panoply of cultural, commercial and political processes. Following a traditional historical analysis of how we arrived at the present iteration of the MSA, Lawrence breaks the service station into its constituent parts and explores each discreetly—from table setting, portion control and nomenclature to shop, carpet and ecology.
Although a serious work of historical scholarship, Food on the Move borrows the form of an architectural book and is furnished with beautiful archival photography. This is supplemented by richly-detailed scans of menus, advertising material and other interesting ephemera one might reasonably expect to have been lost. This book’s scarcity is surprising, particularly in light of its gorgeous presentation and unique subject. Admittedly the history of motorway service stations is a niche pursuit, but a slew of far inferior microhistories have been coveted by the reading public in the past decade.