Berkshire Downs services
The smallest service station on the main A34 - Berkshire Downs is a little forecourt by the southbound carriageway.
Trivia and History
The forecourt dates back to the 1950s, when the A34 was a much slower, single carriageway road. The building attached to it was known as The Retreat.
In the 1970s, plans emerged to upgrade the A34 to a dual carriageway, by building a second carriageway to the west. This attracted a flurry of plans for new services in the Chilton area. The garage owners wanted to rebuild it and add much more lorry parking.
In 1976 BP planned to build a northbound service station by the new northbound carriageway. This seemingly innocuous idea caused a storm, as the Vale of White Horse District Council said they were "astounded" to see that BP knew every detail about the proposed new carriageway, even though the council hadn't been consulted on it.
In 1979 permission was granted to upgrade the existing filling station, but other plans in the area were rejected. Oxfordshire County Council was receiving a lot of proposals for new services on the A34, and was only receptive to locations it approved of: initially Abingdon, then they moved towards Milton Heights.
In 1985, Heron wanted to take over and rebuild the services, adding a family restaurant. They also considered building at the Chilton and West Isley junctions, and there was another plan for a northbound service area. Further services were planned nearby at Manor Farm, near Drayton. The county council again ruled it was happy with the existing provision of services, including the site about to open at Chieveley, and that this would not be an appropriate place for one. Esso continued to try to build services at the Chilton junction, including building new north-facing sliproads.
In 1996 there was a plan to turn the bungalow building into a restaurant, while in 2016 there was a plan to turn it into a small B&B. Plans to upgrade the site are now compromised by the fact the road has become very fast and busy, yet the sliproads here remain substandard and its facilities limited by its small size.
By the 1970s the forecourt was a 24-hour BP. It then became Shell, and was Murco by the 1990s. It then changed ownership to an independent dealer, who by the end of 2015 had introduced a Tchibo coffee machine and unbranded the Mace store, with hopes to open a Spar store.
In 2016, the service station changed hands again with a separate Spar store planned to open. This only went as far as introducing a Spar-branded range to the store; new branding wasn't added.
In October 2018, it was acquired by M&S Fuels Ltd, who in summer 2019 rebranded the forecourt back to Shell and extended the forecourt Shop adding a Costa Express machine in the process. As a result of the extension, an electric vehicle charging point situated around the back of the shop has been removed. A ban on HGVs pulling into the services was lifted at the same time.
The shop was later branded Costcutter.
|Chieveley (8 miles)||Services on the A34||Didcot (5 miles)|