|Road:||M6 between J32 and J33|
Forton Motorway Service Area
|Telephone number:||01524 791775|
|Signposted from the road?||As Burger King/Costa/M&S|
|Previous operators:||Rank, Pavilion, Granada|
|Previous names:||Forton, Lancaster (Forton)|
|Services type:||Two sites located between junctions, connected by an internal bridge.|
|Visit Lancaster Northbound/Moto's official website|
Visit Lancaster Southbound/Moto's official website
Forton Services Website
Quite possibly the most iconic service station of all, Lancaster is famous for its large tower sticking out of the northbound building (see trivia). Today, Lancaster has been moved around quite a bit and the toilets are now upstairs. The tower is closed to the public.
General: Local Information, Children's Play Area, Showers, Moto Free WiFi, Faith Room
Restaurants: Eat & Drink Co., Burger King, Costa, West Cornwall Pasty Co. (northbound only), Greggs
Shops: WHSmith (with Costa Express), M&S Simply Food, Fone Bitz, Cotton Traders
Fuel: BP (with: Costa Express Air1 AdBlue LPG)
Motel: Travelodge[book rooms]
First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £11 and HGVs £16, or £17.50 to include a £7.50 food voucher.
Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details. The location code is 2448 (northbound) and 2449 (southbound).
The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.
Lancaster was opened in 1965 by Rank under the name 'Forton'. When Granada eventually grasped hold of the services, they renamed it to 'Lancaster'. Unusually, Granada later changed this to 'Lancaster (Forton)' - it's not clear whether dropping the name Forton resulted in a drop of trade or just upset a few of the services' fans. This name stuck around for about a decade, but Moto are now slowly dropping the 'Forton' part leaving just 'Lancaster'. The Highways Agency still refer to it as 'Lancaster (Forton)' when there is an incident at the services.
For many years the name 'Forton services' was used on all example diagrams of road signs, including drawings of non-motorway signs. The services used to be listed by the Highways Agency as an "approved truckstop", but this is no longer the case.
The southbound side once had a tourist information office, itself formerly a fast food unit of some sort.
Inside the tower. Remnants of its days as a panoramic restaurant can just about be made out.
This service station is almost entirely known for the 65-foot tower on the northbound building, visible from afar on the north side and described in one publicity leaflet as being "a luxury observation platform".
The Pennine Tower was designed to make the services clearly visible - the ban on advertising had always been an issue, and the previous technique of having a restaurant on a bridge, like down the road at Charnock Richard, was proving expensive and impractical. The tower resembles that used by air traffic control, summarising the dreams of the '60s.
The central shaft consists of two small pentagonal lifts, still in use to get to the first floor but with the buttons for the tower usually disabled. There are then three service lifts, and one spiral staircase - satisfying typical health and safety regulations.
At the top of the tower stood a fine-dining waitress service restaurant, offering views over the road below and across Lancashire. Above the restaurant was a sun terrace. In reality social changes and cost-cutting limited the demand for a sit-down meal, and this coupled with high maintenance costs made the tower fall out of favour. The 'fine dining' restaurant became the trucking lounge that had been on the first floor, before closing to the public in 1989.
It then soldiered on for another 15 years, partially re-fitted, as a head office, then staff training and storage, but even this became too impractical, and is now not used at all.
Although the tower is unique to these services, the concept of large high-level floors can be seen in many Rank services of the era, the idea of each one being to give a good view of the surrounding area, such as Hilton Park. The low-level restaurant at Forton sticks out over the first floor, and partially in to the road, to give an optimum view. Toilets and offices were in the ground floor buildings below.
The tower was marked as a Grade II listed building in October 2012, most people thinking it had been done already, with growing momentum for something to be done to make use of it. However, obstacles such as un-strengthened windows and asbestos in the emergency exit, plus government regulations, prevent it from being used any time soon.
A 2008 exhibition in Lancaster celebrating 50 years of the M6 included a replica of the restaurant inside the Pennine Tower as it would be if it were still trading today. At the same time a Top Gear feature used to tower to create a mocked-up image of the car park in the 1960s.
In May 2012, Visit England rated the northbound services as 3 stars and southbound as 2 stars. In August 2011, both sides were rated 3 stars.
In 2008, 2009 again in 2010 the services won a five star loo award - one of few Motos to take part in the event
In 2006 the services won a four star loo award.
Also in 2006, Holiday Which? rated the services at 4/5.
|Charnock Richard (24 miles)|
Rivington (M61, 28 miles)
Blackburn with Darwen (M65, 26 miles)
Tickled Trout (15 miles)
|Services on the M6||
Burton-in-Kendal (M6 northbound, 14 miles)|
Killington Lake (M6 southbound, 26 miles)
Carnforth truckstop (13 miles
|Lymm (48 miles)|
Birch (M62, 41 miles)
Burton-in-Kendal (M6 northbound, 14 miles)|
Southwaite (64 miles)
With thanks to the user 'fonebitzuk' for the information used on this page.