Most motorway services in the UK are functional but dull places with variable quality of food and refreshments. Most have coffee chain drinks along with amusement arcades.
Gloucester Services on the M5 is different with its Farm Shop, grass roof and environmental features as well as excellent food and service. It specialises in selling artisanal food, and does not offer outlets for popular chain food brands.
The Services were opened in 2014/15 and officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales on 28th July 2015.
The Gloucester Services serve both northbound and southbound carriageways of the M5 between Junction 11A and Junction 12, near Whaddon, Gloucester.
Construction of the northbound services began in early 2013, and they officially opened on 7 May 2014. Construction of the southbound services commenced in March 2014 and they opened on 19 May 2015.
History of Gloucester Services development
In September 2009, independent motorway services operator, Westmorland Motorway Services Ltd., jointly with a local charitable trust, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust submitted plans for a services at Matson for public consultation. The plans are for a business operated in a similar manner to the Tebay Services on the M6 in Cumbria, with much of the food and produce on sale being sourced from local suppliers.
The services supports the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust in assisting the business to provide good jobs for more deprived areas of Gloucester, and to support local social regeneration schemes.
One of the factors that helped the development gain planning permission was the inclusion of a green roof in the design. The 4000sqm state of the art green roof was designed to disguise the new service station as part of the landscape. With the Cotswolds on one side and Robinswood Hill on the other, every effort had to be made to reduce the aesthetic and biological impact the project had. A bespoke seed mix was used which was intended to mimic the natural vegetation of the surrounding landscape. Species such as Birdsfoot Trefoil and Yellow Rattle were included to attract UK native pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
It is run by a family business along side the Cumbrian Services at Tebay (close to the M6), which was started in 1972 and includes the farm shop.
The story at the Gloucester Services on M5 has its roots 200 miles north in the rolling uplands of Cumbria. In 1972, Cumbrian farmers John and Barbara Dunning set up Tebay Services in partnership with local bakers when the new M6 cut through the Lune Gorge. It was the first and is still the only family run motorway service station on the UK road network – it’s heart was a small 30 seat café serving home cooked, locally sourced food.
Forty years on and the Tebay Services in Cumbria is still family owned, with the family still farming and with a fierce passion for, and a pride in, their landscape, people, environment and its products. So much so that it has gone on to inspire them to innovate and find new ways of creating business opportunities in the most unlikely of locations – on the side of a motorway.
So now they have moved south. Located between junctions 11a and 12 of the M5, on the outskirts of Gloucester, Gloucester Services are the newest addition to the Westmorland Family of businesses. Whatever and wherever their businesses are, they think the most important thing about them is that they are rooted in their place.
Sources: Wikipedia & Gloucester Services website