|Locations:||up to 13|
|Removed:||1986/1995 (see below)|
Forte were a hospitality giant and the leaders of the roadside market before Granada took this role. Before motorways, they ran many hotels and cafés around the country. Their first business was a milk bar in 1935.
In 1960 they opened the UK's second service area, Newport Pagnell, under the name 'Motorway Services Ltd', which they built to help promote their name. They went on to build several more services, before merging with Trust House, who had been running rest areas long before motorways were heard of, to create Trust House Forte and later Trusthouse Forte. Their hotels were re-branded as Forte Posthouse. This made Forte the UK's largest service area operator until the nineties. Around this time they re-branded their services as Motor Chef, but this wasn't much of a success so they changed back.
Early Forte services included an American-styled restaurant called Grill & Griddle, and in many cases, seating available along the bridge to provide a good view of the road. Later ones each had a Little Chef.
Having owned Little Chef since the 1960s, in 1986, Trusthouse Forte bought Happy Eater and the four Welcome Break services off Hanson Trust. At the time Trusthouse Forte described Welcome Break as 'highly respected', so they decided to re-brand all their motorway services as Welcome Break rather than do it the other way round. This meant an end to Forte-branded services, but they continued to own Welcome Break's and several other chains.
In 1995, Granada bought Trusthouse Forte for £3.9billion. By then, Granada had grown so much that they were forced to sell off Welcome Break, who were picked up by Investcorp. The remaining Trusthouse Forte businesses were changed to become Forte.
When Compass and Granada split up (Compass took Granada's hospitality services and Granada kept their media), Forte was handed back to Charles Forte's son Sir Rocco Forte.
The following services were owned and branded as Forte:
- Barnsdale Bar (A1)
- Burtonwood (M62)
- Charnock Richard (M6)
- Corley (M6)
- Fleet (M3)
- Gordano (M5)
- Grantham North (A1)
- Gretna Green (A74(M), then A74)
- Keele (M6)
- London Gateway (M1)
- Newport Pagnell (M1)
- Peartree (A34/A40/A44, then A34/A43)
- Woodall (M1)
With thanks to Adrian Atkins for the information used on this page.