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|Predecessors:||Kenning Motor Group|
Top Rank, later Rank Motorway Services Ltd (part of the Rank Group) built some of the older Moto services out there. They were keen on big ideas, and while none of those ideas have really stood the test of time, they've certainly formed a big part of the motorway industry's history.
In true '60s style, all Top Rank services were referred to by the operator as 'Motoports'. Their obsession with being futuristic gave rise to elaborate architecture and facilities which offered almost no human contact at all, later with bright blue and yellow colours. All of the services they built cost more than twice the investment suggested by the government - Medway was almost four times, leading to the government suspecting they simply wanted to buy their way into the industry.
After an initial couple of years of building bold and distinctive services, Top Rank quickly learned that such buildings were expensive to maintain and difficult to make a profit out of. As such, the rate of their construction slowed down significantly, and they settled for a more conservative brown colour scheme. The following 20 years used almost no enterprise at all.
By 1969 Top Rank were pleading with the Ministry of Transport to have their rent arrangements negotiated, arguing that inaccurate traffic forecasts had made their business difficult. They wanted to introduce a news theatre, conference room and grocery shop to their services to attract more custom. When this wasn't honoured they refused to bid for any more services, but concerned about their competitors gaining ground, in 1976 they quietly began to bid again.
Although well-maintained and usually tidy, their services were known for being expensive. Ultimately, their finances never caught up with their initial investments.
In 1991, following the takeover of Mecca, Rank decided to sell off some of the subsidiary companies, the first of which was the motorway services. These were sold to Michael Guthrie, former CEO of Mecca, resulting in the services being branded as Pavilion.
The following services were owned by Top Rank:
- Bolton West (M61)
- Cardiff West (M4)
- Hilton Park (M6)
- Knutsford (M6)
- Lancaster (then-Forton) (M6)
- Medway (then-Farthing Corner) (M2)
- Scotch Corner (A1)
- Severn View (M48)
- Swansea (M4)
The following services were planned by Rank but they were never built: