human endeavour, photography, thoughts and ideas

‘The Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its Own Right’

Posted in Uncategorized by humanendeavour photography on May 2, 2013

Human Endeavour have been asked to be involved in a project by Banks Street Arts in Sheffield. The project is to respond to the title of Simon Armitage’s book ‘The Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its own right.’ There is going to be an exhibition and publication. The exhibition will run from the 14th of May until the 8th of June atBank Street Arts.

Here are Simon Carruthers photos and text for the exhibition.

At the tail end of 1988 the UK’s burgeoning house music scene was fast outgrowing the small number of clubs experimenting with this new sound. A handful of promoters, initially Genesis, Energy and Sunrise seized on an opportunity and started putting on illegal parties primarily in disused east London warehouses. As the scene began to gain momentum the raves moved to bigger venues outside of London, typically abandoned aircraft hangers and open fields surrounding the M25. These raves became known as the London orbital parties. Within a few months of this first spate of illegal raves the tabloid press were splashing headlines across their front pages deploring the menace of ‘acid house parties’ and inadvertently fueling wider interest in the rave scene.

At their height during the summer of 1989 the London orbital raves regularly attracted in excess of 5 or even 10 thousand ravers. To avoid detection by the authorities, the location of the raves would be kept secret until the last minute, and then announced on pirate radio stations or via information lines detailed on the flyers. Partygoers would congregate in their cars – usually at service stations – and travel in convoy once the rave had been set up and the location revealed. The police would only become aware of the location at the same time as the ravers, and were usually powerless to stop the raves due to being hopelessly outnumbered by partygoers.

Motorway service stations were ideal meeting points for the orbital parties as their locations provided easy access to the motorway system and ample space for hundreds of vehicles to congregate relatively out of sight. The close proximity to trunk roads gave the ravers an advantage when the location of the rave was announced and the race commenced to arrive onsite ahead of the authorities. It was not unheard of for the service station car park itself to become the scene of an impromptu party if the intended rave was delayed or cancelled and scores of partygoers found themselves stranded.

This series is an attempt to evoke the feeling of anticipation and excitement felt during the early months of the rave scene when a hedonistic party in a secret location would, with luck, consume the night ahead.


Simon_03 001


Simon_14 001


Simon_11 001

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: