As per my last post, I’m expanding on the Little Chef thing. Also, I’d really appreciate feed back and thoughts on this post, and the project it is about.
Little chef is a bit of an institution in the UK, as a Kid I loved the bright red roadside diners an always looked out for them, even if we didn’t stop at them. The pair at Balhaldie on the A9 are a major landmark for me.
A couple of years back I noticed that the last Little Chef restaurant on the routes I travel most often these days closed down – this was at Lamberhurst on the A21 between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings. There were another coupe of closed which re-opened as Starbucks, near Eastbourne on the A27 and A22. This got me thinking about change and corporate influence.
I then wondered if there might be something in looking at the re-use of of Little chefs and if it actually might show something about the UK now. A bit of research about former little chefs turned up a number have become Adult Shops, successful because their roadside locations allow anonymity to customers. This seemed kind of interesting given the child friendly history/nostalgia around the brand.
So, instead of big corporates, A lot of these roadside establishments which were marginal at best are being taken up by lower end uses, which are more varied and interesting, Though there are some exceptions. With these half baked notions in mind and a tank full of petrol I set out over a couple of days last weekend to get out there and gather some images.
Initially I travelled North on the A1, as this is the prime hunting ground for the Sex shops, but also travelled East into Essex and will be making more trips and adding more images over the next few weeks to see if there is a valid body of work here, I suspect there is but I think the scope and the message are still poorly defined.
Also I’ve been under a couple of influences – I’m following Mark Power on Instagram and after seeing his ‘Destroying the laboratory for the sake of the experiment’ and coming into contact with Paul Graham’s A1: Great North Road series the idea of a road trip chimed as a logical way to survey the nation (Graham’s Little Chef from the series isn’t on his site). At the same time I hope it works slightly differently and but without slipping into an Ed Ruscha/26 gasoline Stations territory or Becher style cataloging. On that basis I hope to use the landscapes around the existing and former sites in an attempt to broaden the scope.