Motorway Services Online

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Service stations are staying open.


Bothwell services

Location:

M74 southbound between J4 and J5

Signposted from the road.

Postcode:

G71 8BG

map and directions

Access/Layout:

Single site located between junctions on one side of the motorway.

Rating: See the reviews



A small service area with no hotel on the southbound M74 out of Glasgow. Roadchef have an alternative for northbound traffic, Hamilton.

Facilities

COVID-19 update: These details were updated on 20 January 2021, with changes caused by COVID-19.


Catering: Costa Express Shops: WHSmith Main Amenities: Free Cash Machine, Showers Hotel: none Charging Points: Ecotricity Forecourt: Shell, Spar, Starbucks on the Go, AdBlue4You

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £12 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £17.50, or £19.50 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details or in the shop. The location code is 5273.

The fees are strictly enforced by GroupNexus.

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
Galley Road Chef
South Bound Motorway Fallside Road
Bothwell
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
G71 8BG

🌍 Operators (Official Websites):


Trivia and History

Bothwell totem pole.jpg
The sign in a state of poor repair.

Camera icon

Services opened 1975
Building re-built 1986?

When they opened, Bothwell and Hamilton were treated administratively as if they were one service area. On this website their two names mean they are each counted individually.

With 97 parking spaces, this is officially Roadchef's smallest car park, and possibly the smallest of all the major motorway service areas.

When the M74 was widened in 2017, to save space Bothwell became the site of the UK's only lane drop leading into a service station - an odd decision given its low use.

The filling station here was sold to EG Group by Roadchef in early 2017 as part of Roadchef's intention to focus only on retail. Given that Roadchef's facilities close overnight, this makes it one of few services where the main operator is only involved on a part-time basis.

History

In 1967 Highway Restaurants Ltd (which consisted of Blue Star and Trust Houses) bid to run both Bothwell and Hamilton together. The Department for Transport laid the roads out, but Trust Houses pulled out their support leaving Blue Star to run it on their own. In 1969, following changes to their own financial position, Blue Star pulled out as well.

After no operator could be found to take on the services, Roadchef were invited to design their own service station here, which they made as cheap and easy to build as possible. It had a largely glass, 120-seat self-service restaurant and an orange and cream colour scheme. There were parking spaces for 50 HGVs and 10 coaches.

Roadchef confirmed it was designed with long-distance traffic heading across Scotland in mind, with drivers being encouraged to park up for the night and make their way by taxi to hotels in nearby towns. Bothwell reportedly opened on 27 June 1975, although an official opening date is recorded as 22 September 1975, an event which was attended by the Scottish Lorry Driver of the Year.

When opened fuel was provided by Texaco, later BP and then Shell.

In 1977, Egon Ronay rated the service area as "appalling", calling its operation "very casual". It had "a dirty stained carpet and smoke-stained ceiling", "rude staff" and poor food. By 1978, Bothwell had been described as "the worst in Britain" for its poor design and heavy vandalism. The building was soon replaced by a less flimsy-looking structure in a new position.

In the 1980s, Roadchef built a number of services which later closed. The new Bothwell was built at that time and, with its small size and minimal changes, it gives us a good idea what the other sites would have looked like.

Struggles

Bothwell's original design catered for demand that didn't really exist. The road is not used by much long-distance traffic, but by commuters who's journeys start or end nearby. As a result, Bothwell is usually last in line to receive any investment, and it has missed out on many nationwide refurbishments over the years. It is possibly the UK's most forgotten service area.

Inside it is very quiet. In 2006, Holiday Which? gave the services a 1/5. They described it as "dreary and cluttered", and its toilets received no marks at all. Roadchef responded to the review by saying that "it isn't the most damning of criticisms".

Besides the troubled history set out above, in 2009 Roadchef were in financial difficulties and gave serious consideration to selling Bothwell.

Bothwell was supposed to undergo a multi-million pound refurbishment in 2014, bringing it in line with other Roadchef services areas which were gaining McDonald's and new dining areas. This didn't happen, and Bothwell is still the only Roadchef service station without a McDonald's. The Restbite restaurant became the last buffet-style servery at a big-name motorway service area.

Planning permission for a Costa Drive Thru here was granted in 2017, but as of November 2020 it has not yet been built. The large grounds here would make a drive thru easy to construct.

In April 2020, Bothwell became the only motorway service area in the country to regularly shut down at night, due to staffing difficulties with Roadchef and EG Group associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. The Restbite restaurant opted to close during the first lockdown, and did not reopen, leaving Costa as the main restaurant option.

Planning permission has now been secured for a two-storey, stand-alone, McDonald's drive thru to be built outside the main building. While it will be operated by Roadchef, it may pull even more trade away from the original building, creating the unusual situation where the ancillary building is busier than the main one.

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
none on M74
Old Inns (M80, 14 miles)
Heart of Scotland (M8 east, 17 miles)
Services on the M74 Hamilton (M74 northbound, 5 miles)
Cairn Lodge (17 miles)
none Roadchef services Annandale Water (50 miles)

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