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Road Transport Cafes ImageFlicking through the pages of Trucking Down Memory Lane: Transport Cafés I came across a section that looked at the low standards of road transport cafés in the1940s.

Around this time, the transport industry decided that enough was enough and released a booklet setting out expected standards and giving guidance to café proprieters. Later that decade, in 1948, another booklet was released named Road Transport Cafés, some observations and recomendations by the British Road Federation.

In this booklet, the author gives a description of the standard of roadside cafés at the time.

“There is no exaggeration in claiming that all too few of the existing transport cafés cater conscientiously for the drivers’ needs. Generally speaking, the café consists of no more than a single bare room, which may be large or small according to the size of the premises, furnished with plain wooden benches or kitchen chairs and cluttered tables with either no covering or with soiled and usually tattered oil-cloth.

“Divided from the cooking quarters by a service counter of unappetising appearance, the café proper has an atmosphere largely composed of stale food smells and tobacco smoke. There is seldom any adequate washing convenience or sanitation. Where sleeping accomodation is offered, it is generally of primitive nature and of questionable cleanliness. Certainly, it is not comfortable or inviting, while lavatory facilities are virtually non-existent.”

The booklet then introduces two characters called Ted and Joe – who are said to be representative of the many thousands of lorry drivers – and goes through their wishlist of what they want from cafés. Here are their 12 specifications:

Please note that ‘he’ is used throughout, either as a sign of the times or because there were no female lorry drivers at this time.

  • Parking space where a vehicle will be safe.
  • Easy pull-in and safe pull-out.
  • Reasonably comfortable chair in which to relax while he awaits his food and eats it.
  • He wants a table to eat at which is not cluttered with dirty plates and cutlery and which is not soiled with the evidence of bygone meals.
  • He wants civility and attention to his order.
  • He wants a good cup of tea.
  • He wants food satisfying and tasty as is compatible with the material available.
  • He wants his food served on clean plates, dished up with regards to civilised amenities.
  • He wants an atmosphere in the room which is conducive to eating a meal.
  • He wants the surroundings to be as clean, tidy and agreeable as is reasonably possible.
  • He wants lavatory accommodation which is cleaned in accordance with civilised amenities; and
  • If dormitory accomodation is provided, he wants it to be (a) clean, (b) of reasonable comfort and (c) quiet.

Reading through a wishlist that was compiled 66 years ago, it’s plain to see that not much has changed. It would be great if the truck stop or transport café you visit had free WiFi or Sky TV but the basic needs for a truck driver are all set out here. If you get to receive all 12 of these points then your visit is sure to be a pleasant one.

What is your transport café wishlist? Does it align with this one? Let us know by commenting below or starting a conversation on twitter or FB.