The Pathetic Motorways site explains
Well, the first proposals for the Stirling Corner Link turn up in the late 1950s, when the M1 was still planned to head all the way to Marble Arch. In 1961, the Link was part of the firm proposals for the Hendon Urban Motorway - or what we know as the M1 today between Watford and the A406 North Circular Road. Indeed, if you look at that section of the M1 today, it's remarkably quiet, even at peak hours - simply because all of the junctions south of Watford point away from London. No traffic heading from London can exit the motorway until it gets to Watford. You're not allowed to escape!The Stirling Corner Link would have changed all that. Indeed, there are maps in existence that show a fork junction to and from the south only rather than the roundabout as constructed. Well, half-constructed.For some reason that I haven't yet got to the bottom of, it wasn't constructed along with the rest of that section of M1 in 1967, but it still appers in the roads programme all the way to April 1976 - but by August of that year it had been cancelled in the public spending cuts of the time.And that should have been the end of the story - and indeed as far as the motorway link was concerned, it was. However, the road would not stay dead forever. In 1989, the then-Government announced Roads for Prosperity, a sudden return to the roadbuilding programmes of the past. Hidden down amongst the "all-purpose schemes" was the Stirling Corner Link. Renamed, of course, to the Scratchwood Link just to keep us all on our toes and although it was planned to be a three-lane wide dual carriageway, it was not to be a motorway scheme. The Scratchwood Link was one of the schemes put out to private tender in April 1990, but progress in getting the road constructed was non-existent and the road itself was re-cancelled in the cuts of 1994, seemingly never to return.
The services were constructed on the site of the old Scratchwoods ash sidings. Until the early 1960's, Britains railways was operated by coal fired steam engines. These produced a huge amount of waste ash. Much of this in North London was dumped at Scratchwoods Ash sidings. There is an old layout map of these on the S-R-S website (Hat Tip to Robin Morel at Network Rail for the map)
I must thank Murray Anderson for drawing my attention to the fact that a major film had sequences shot in these sidings in 1961. The film starring Dirk Bogarde saw an old LMS locomotive dressed up as a German ammunition train and blown up in the sidings. If you forward to around 13.30 you can see the sequence and how the London Gateway site looked in 1962!
There are also scenes filmed in Mill Hill on Milespit Hill and in Cricklewood Railway shed. You can see these at https://www.reelstreets.com/films/password-is-courage-the/.
The services and Motel were opened in 1970. The full history of the services is detailed on the Motorway services online site. Interestingly, there is an episode of Minder called The long ride back to Scratchwoods. Interestingly, it wasn't filmed at Scrtachwoods, but at Heston Services on the M4!
A fact that not too many people know is that the guns of HMS Belfast, preserved on the River Thames, are targeted on Scratchwoods Service station. To quote the Londonist
According to the ship's Chief Yeoman, Kevin Price, Scratchwood was picked on because it was a well-known landmark on the M1 motorway. "We could also hit Cheshunt, or Gidea Park, or fall just shy of Dartford," he tells us. Scratchwood, though, has a certain quotidian monotony that invites comparison with Betjeman's "come friendly bombs" prejudice.
There is more to Scratchwoods than the services. The nature reserve is also a popular film location, being used in several Hammer horror films produced at Elstree Studios, including Taste The Blood of Dracula with Christopher Lee
The opening sequence, before the credits was filmed at Scratchwoods.
Wikipedia tells us that Scratchwoods is part of what was once the Middlesex Forest
Scratchwood is a remnant of the once great Middlesex Forest, and has the largest area of ancient woodland which survives in Barnet. Parts of it may go back to the woods which grew up after the end of the last ice age, the Younger Dryas, 11,500 years ago. The ancient woodland consists mainly of sessile oak and hornbeam, with some wild service trees, while secondary woodland areas are mainly birch, hawthorns and sycamore. In the view of the London Ecology Unit, "Scratchwood is the Borough's best woodland in terms of floral diversity, especially of ancient woodland indicator species". The herb rich grassland and the pond have a number of rare plants. Breeding birds include nuthatch, lesser whitethroat and cuckoo.The Mill Hill Historical Society put out a tweet with some interesting maps charting the decline of the Middlesex forest
London in:— Mill Hill Hist Soc (@MHHistSoc) December 26, 2019
1500 - 700BC
700BC - 50AD
When Mill Hill was part of the Forest of Middlesex, an ancient dense woodland of which Scratchwoods is a small surviving part.https://t.co/mCxC3ShSWC
From @MuseumofLondon pic.twitter.com/b7PZ3K3U3T
It is a shame that with all of this history, locals don't always treat the park with the respect it deserves.
.In the Borough of Barnet we are lucky to still have such amazing green sites. The reasons I spend so many hours writing blogs such as this is to ensure that our heritage and history is preserved and people appreciate the blessings we have. So please, clean up your mess!Scratchwoods this morning. As citizens we should hang our heads in shame. This is vile behaviour. @BarnetCouncil @Laithe_Jajeh please sort ASAP pic.twitter.com/xfcl1dISWF— A Better Mill Hill (@ABetterMillHill) July 16, 2019