|Facilities | Rating | Reviews|
|Road:||M5 between J7 and J8|
MAP AND DIRECTIONS
|Address:||Roadchef Motorways Ltd|
Strensham M5 Service Area
|Telephone number:||01684 293004 (northbound) 01984 290577 (southbound)|
|Signposted from the road?||As McDonald's/Costa|
1994 (new northbound)
2005 (new southbound)
|Previous operators:||Kenning Motor Group, Take-a-Break|
|Grid reference:||SO893407 (northbound)|
|Services type:||Two sites staggered between junctions, with no public connection between them.|
|Visit Strensham/Roadchef's official website|
Strensham is a popular and modern service station, especially the southbound side.
Restaurants: Chozen Noodle (seasonal opening), Costa, Fresh Food Café, McDonald's, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme
southbound only: Soho Coffee Co., The Cornish Bakery (seasonal opening) Shops: Cotton Traders, Fone Bitz, WHSmith
northbound only: Cheekies, Spar
southbound only: Leaf Gifts Main Amenities: Game On, Jackpot £500, Showers
northbound only: Ecotricity Electric Vehicle Charging Point, Regus Express, UK TruckClean TruckWash
southbound only: Picnic Tables Motel:
northbound only: Days Inn - southbound access to motel via bridge Forecourt:
northbound only: Texaco (with: FloGas LPG), Star Market, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme
southbound only: BP (with: AdBlue Containers), BP Connect, Wild Bean Café
First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £12 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £27, or £29 to include a £10 food voucher.
Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details or in the shop or restaurant. The location code is 5261 (northbound) and 5262 (southbound).
The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.
Trivia and History
The northbound site has an air ambulance base which was built in 1998. It was the last motorway service area to lose its Pizza Hut Express outlet in 2014.
Blue Boar were one of the operators who unsuccessfully bid for the services.
A 1975 review described the layout of the services as "disastrous", with "low quality" buildings, a confusing car park and a footpath which sent pedestrians through the forecourt. It urged the services to be redesigned from south, which did eventually happen.
The two restaurants were simply furnished, the main one being advertised as open the very precise hours of 09:15-20:55. It had blue plastic seats, a carpet and curtains. The café had a tiled floor with red and blue tables and high-backed settees.
In 1991 the services were thought to be one of the worst in Britain with staff morale at an all-time low. This was quickly turned around.
The two sides of the services are a good mile apart. Originally the services were built just like any other, if a little close to M5 J8. In 1991 the M5 here was widened and J8 improved, bringing it closer to the services. This was used as a chance to move the northbound site further north, and the old northbound site became a works depot, and the southbound site's exit was been changed so that traffic leaving the services is thrown onto J8, rather than trying to merge onto a motorway which is full of traffic trying to leave. There is an extra lane between J8 and the northbound services, giving us a very rare scenario where there is a lane drop into a service area.
When Roadchef grasped hold of the services in the late '90s they bulldozed the southbound site and replaced it with something much more modern. Today this is the operator's busiest and most profitable service area, with Norton Canes coming a close second.
The original plan for the new southbound services included a mini-roundabout at the entrance to the car park, but this was changed as it would involve traffic coming up the sliproad to give way to people leaving the car park, potentially causing queues back on to the motorway. Instead in 2015 the layout was changed to have two lanes enter the car park and run parallel, a very unusual setup.
In 2005 there were plans to build a motel at the northern edge of the southbound services, but these were rejected, partially because the services were already struggling to keep up with demand. Instead, the area was used as an overflow car park.
As of 2010, the southbound services are significantly busier than the northbound ones, attracting approximately 3% more traffic. This probably follows the 2008 refurbishment, which cost cost £1.6million.
In 2016, the trial brand arrangement was moved around for the first time. Hot Food Company is closed and is set to become a large Fresh Food Cafe, while Soho Coffee has moved to be by WHSmith.
The services were the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary called 'Motorway Madness', which aired in October 2010 on Five.
Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.
In May 2012, Visit England rated the northbound services as 4 stars and southbound as 3 stars.
This was reversed in August 2011, where they rated the southbound services as 4 stars (commenting on its choice of seating) and the northbound side as 3 stars (commenting on its ease of use by businesses).
In 1996 and again in 1997, Take a Break won the services first place in the Tea Council's Best Tea In Britain awards.
In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the restaurant as "acceptable" and the café as "poor". One meal he highlighted was a soup which came "straight from the packet" and was still "carelessly cooked".
|Frankley (29 miles)|
Hopwood Park (M42, 31 miles)
|Services on the M5||
Gloucester (18 miles)|
Ross Spur (A40, 22 miles)
|Stafford (South) (M6 south, 63 miles)||Roadchef services||
Sedgemoor (South) (M5 south, 69 miles)|
Magor (M4 west, 56 miles)
Views expressed in these comments are those of the individual contributor. They are moderated by Facebook.