The Way We Were with John Taylor: The greatest greasy spoon cafes of Milton Keynes history


The joys of fine dining in Milton Keynes - well, the local cafes.

And my heart began to race when, having ordered a meal, I was furtively asked if I’d like any “extras”. What, with ham, egg & chips? Crikey! Perhaps 30 years ago Madam...

Thankfully it was only mushy peas on offer. Yet the experience recalled memories of the ‘greasy spoons’ of yesteryear, of which some were rather dubious. But not, of course, May’s café at Potterspury, which in pre-motorway days was a busy stop for long-distance lorry drivers on the A5. The name arose from a former proprietress, Mrs May Austin, and being so well-known the title was kept by successive owners. In fact it was a changeover point for British Road Transport Services, and as such even featured in a BBC broadcast from the car park. The café was open all hours whilst as for the busy staff, according to the proprietor “I have got some nice girls, including a couple of Irish lassies, and good lookers too, with a fellow Scot to supervise the work.”

Yet, as mentioned in a previous article the opening of the M1 spelt the end of such roadside havens, and with only a trickle of the former trade May’s Café closed, and was auctioned off for £2,000 in 1962.

Another local café to experience the downturn was the Chevron Service Station at Little Brickhill, where I fondly recall having to fill up for the long journeys ‘oop north.’ This was then only a shadow of its former self but in more prosperous times was run by Roy Bedwell as a very slick and smart operation which won him a BEA ‘Silver Wing’ holiday.

As for the less reputable greasy spoons, plain food perhaps, but just sometimes with a rather more exotic dish to offer.