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Cherwell Valley

Cherwell Valley
Moto
Cherwell Valley
Road:M40 at J10
(also accessible to traffic on the A43 and the B430)
Address:Moto Services Ltd
Cherwell Valley Motorway Services Area
Northampton Road
Ardley
Bicester
Oxfordshire
OX27 7RD
Telephone number:01869 346060
Signposted from the road?Yes
Opened:1994 (rebuilt in 2011)
Previous operators:Granada
Grid reference:SP551282
Services type:Single site located at a junction.
Visit Cherwell Valley/Moto's official website
Foursquare

A large, new building, recently re-opened in 2011.

Contents

Facilities

Main Amenities: Showers, Lucky Coin, Full Hou$e, Moto Meetings, Truck Wash, Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Changing Places
Restaurants: Eat & Drink Co., Burger King, Costa, West Cornwall Pasty Co., Upper Crust, Greggs, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Millie's Cookies
Shops: WHSmith, M&S Simply Food, Fone Bitz, Cotton Traders, Travellers
Motel: Travelodge[book rooms]
Forecourt: Esso (with: Pay @ The Pump LPG), Snack & Shop, Costa Express, AdBlue Containers

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 and HGVs £23, or £24.50 to include a £9 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details. The location code is 2432.

The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.

Trivia and Details

Queueing outside the services
Inside the old services

Location

Cherwell Valley is a large service area and it's the first 'proper' one for traffic coming from the South Coast on the A34. Between the opening of the M40 in 1990 and the opening of the services in 1994, it was possible to drive from Dover to Telford (239 motorway miles) without passing any services, and as a result, when it did open, it became the busiest service area in Europe.

Its biggest flaw is the junction it's on, which was remodelled following the upgrade of the A43. The new junction has five single-lane sliproads, four major exits and three tight roundabouts. One of the roundabouts causes a conflict between traffic heading from the M40 north to the A43 and traffic heading from the A43 to the M40 south, causing queues even outside rush hour. Even if you don't need a break when you see signs for the services, you will when you get there.

If the services weren't there, rebuilding the junction would be much easier.

Original Building

The original services were one of the first to gain a M&S Simply Food store, which took up four retail units and two 'workspaces'. The store was later extended along with the Travelodge to keep up with demand. Despite this, Moto tried to claim compensation from the Highways Agency for a loss of traffic due to the roadworks and the new junction layout. Moto lost the case.

The services were considered for six years, and they finally opened on the 31st March 1994 costing £20m and taking up 56 acres of land. Before then there were emergency fuel and toilet facilities located at the junction. Six possible sites were looked at before the services were built. They were designed to resemble a country house, and the entrance to the car park still creates the impression of a driveway today.

The building had an entrance lobby with a coffee shop inside it. This was built in 2000 and was supposed to house 'Granada 2 Go', an express food store - the idea may have been shortlived or dropped in favour of Upper Crust or Caffe Ritazza. There was also a plant room built between the motel and the services which was originally a tourist information centre. There were plans to connect this to the main building but they didn't happen.

In 1999, Granada proposed extending the restaurant area to include a formal coffee lounge over the area surrounding the children's play area, with a new, larger play area being built behind the building. The plans would have included a reception, 8 private rooms, 12 personal workstations and a terrace with picnic tables stretching over the area between the services and the motel. There would have also been a "BT Communications Room", which was eventually built as a separate building.

Other abandoned plans included 'family rooms' as part of the toilets area. Much of the front of the services (where Thorntons and M&S were) was an extension, with the entrance originally being next to Little Chef/Costa Coffee. Ladbrokes was originally an amusement arcade.

Fire

On the 15 April at 1pm there was a fire in one of Moto's store rooms which took hold of the roof and eventually destroyed the whole amenity building, narrowly missing the adjacent Travelodge. It was started by an electrical fault within an air-conditioning unit. Around 120 firefighters tackled the blaze which lasted until 5pm and resulted in delays on the M40 and a closure of the A43.

On the 23 April a new marquee style building opened at the western end of the car park as a temporary measure until better facilities could be set up. It could hold 100 people, served drinks and a limited hot food menu. Some better facilities that could house all the expected features opened on the 15th July at the south-eastern end of the car park and were used until the permanent building was ready. Ladbrokes was the only facility missing from the temporary building, although this never returned at all.

Heart Oxfordshire have some photos of the fire.

The building was demolished throughout May.

Replacement

On the 1st July a planning application was put in for the final amenity building after design work started hours following the fire. It was almost identical to Wetherby, with the same green credentials, only designed to accommodate busier peak periods. All the brands, including Thorntons, which was unique to the services, were set to be included in the new building, but this didn't materialise: a meeting centre opened here instead. Ladbrokes opened as Upper Crust. Whilst the reconstruction was taking place the motel closed and was going to become a Days Inn, but the plans were dropped and the Travelodge reopened on the 26th May 2011.

The new building opened on the 30th June 2011, shortly before which it was announced that Domino's Pizza would be included. This never happened, and the plans were shortly dropped.

Survey Results

In May 2013, Cherwell Valley gained its first 5 star rating from Visit England. It was also Moto's first 5 star rating.

Cherwell Valley was the national motorway service area winner in the 2012 Loo of the Year Awards.

In May 2012, Visit England rated the services as 4 stars. In August 2011, they gave them 3 stars, but it's not clear which building they were grading. The new one was said to have the best design of any service area.

In 2006 the services were graded 4/5 by Holiday Which?.

In 2005 and again in 2006, the services won a five star loo award.

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
Oxford (20 miles)
Family Farm (A34, 7 miles)
Services on the M40 Warwick (22 miles)
start of roadServices on the A43 Northampton (22 miles)
Brackley (8 miles)
Chieveley (A34, 44 miles)Moto services Tamworth (M42, 61 miles)
Frankley (M5 north, 58 miles)
Markfield (M1 north, 63 miles)

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Further Reading

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