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Hopwood Park services

Location:

M42 at J2
(also accessible to traffic on the A441)

Signposted from the road.

Post Code:

B48 7AU

map and directions

Access/Layout:

Single site located at a junction.

Rating: See the reviews



A service area with its own picnic tables, play area, walking path and a small field. The toilets are on the second storey (except disabled).

Facilities

Catering: Burger King, Harry Ramsden's, KFC, Starbucks, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks on the Go, Tango Ice Blast, Yorkshire Tea, Starbucks Drive Thru Shops: Little Waitrose & Partners, WHSmith Main Amenities: Changing Places, Children's Play Area, Electric Vehicle Charging Point (Ecotricity & Tesla), Fourex Money Exchange, Nature Reserve, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming Motel: none Forecourt: fuelgood, The Great British Bakery, Welcome Break Coffee, Costa Express, Rollover, Air1 AdBlue

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 for a further 24 hours and HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £30 (or £32 to include a £10 meal voucher).

Prices can be paid in the shop, with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

Contact Details

Address:
Welcome Break Service Area
Junction 2 M42
Redditch Road
Alvechurch
Birmingham
Worcestershire
B48 7AU


Trivia and History

Hopwood Park model.jpg
The model of the services which is on display inside it.

Camera icon

Services opened 1999

There is a public footpath leading to Stonehouse Lane.

When the M42 was planned in the 1970s, there were many different plans for services on it, including a possible site at Portway near M42 J3. These were put aside and there was an urgent need to fill the gap where several routes aligned between J3a and J7. Unfortunately this was too difficult to work with, so instead developers looked at alternative places which could at least serve some traffic.

When Bryant Homes started looking at building services at M42 J2 in 1994, there was local outcry, and the plan was rejected by the council. One alternative plan, drawn up in early 1998, took up a similar area, but with a much older design. The access would have been off a new roundabout on the A441, with a petrol station at the north end. The cross-shaped building would have been in the centre with a fan-shaped, landscaped car park facing east, by a motel and balancing pond.

John Prescott overturned the rejection as Environment Secretary, allowing the plan to be developed by Welcome Break.

Opening

"Judging by the comments, we are probably among the best in the country."
Manager Neil Austin, 2000

Hopwood Park was opened on 23 August 1999 by TV chef James Martin, and it cost £25 million to build. Its design is very similar to that of Oxford, which was opened at roughly the same time, and South Mimms which was rebuilt at this time following a large fire.

However, Hopwood Park was a little different: boosted by an on-site nature reserve and an enthusiastic manager, it became one of the first services to really challenge the negative perception of motorway services. The manager invited critic Egon Ronay, and welcomed Central TV when they wanted to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary. The service in Red Hen was praised particularly.

When built, the seating area had 750 seats and the car park 500 car spaces, 36 HGV spaces and 14 coach spaces. It was built on 85 acres of farmland, and cost £40 million to develop.

The facilities it had from opening included a McCoys shop. The drainage system, known as SuDS, was one of the first of its kind in the UK, and a sign in the car park explains how it works.

Later Facilities

Hopwood Park was the first service area to get live traffic information, as part of a joint trial between the Highways Agency and Welcome Break.

In 2005, Hopwood Park won Best Provision of Group Facilities, the first time a motorway service area has ever won such an award. The Coffee Primo unit was also been nominated for 'Best Beverage Experience'. The next year, Holiday Which? rated the services as 5/5. They said it had helpful staff and a good variety of food in a smart café, but it didn't win, Tebay on the M6 did.

When the Waitrose store opened here, it replaced the Petroleum Menswear store. Hopwood was one of few services to have an individual outlet operating within it. The filling station also used to have a Waitrose store within it (the only forecourt Waitrose store on the motorway network), but this was later replaced by the standard Select/Deli2go combination.

The Starbucks Drive Thru here was planned to open in late 2015 but eventually opened in August 2016.

In July 2015, Hopwood Park was one of the first three services to gain a Tesla Supercharger.

Petrol Station Changes

Welcome Break petrol.
The new-look petrol station, in 2020.

In January 2019, petrol station operator Applegreen took control of Welcome Break. Applegreen's business strategy is to attract customers with cheap fuel, and there had been rumours that the takeover could cause a motorway price crash.

The following July, Applegreen removed Shell and its associated brands from the petrol station at Hopwood Park only. It was replaced with colours and slogans very similar to Applegreen's, but with Welcome Break's name instead of Applegreen. This became one of the only times in the last 30 years where a motorway petrol station has been prominently displaying the operator's name, rather than a supplier like Shell's.

The change was backed up by a large sign promoting "lowest motorway fuel prices": not as cheap as local petrol stations like some had expected, but still cheaper than what it had been. This was followed by a large online campaign focusing on the prices and the quality of the fuel.

In January 2020, Hopwood Park's rival, Frankley, was granted permission for some bespoke road signs on the motorway advertising the price of its fuel. It's not yet clear who requested this, or whether it means Frankley is intending to lower its prices too.

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
none on M42
Frankley (M5 north, 10 miles)
Strensham (M5 south, 31 miles)
Services on the M42 Tamworth (27 miles)
Warwick (M40, 22 miles)
Corley (M6 east, 25 miles)
none on M42
Keele (M6 north, 54 miles)
Telford (M54, 42 miles)
Welcome Break services none on M42
Warwick (M40, 22 miles)
Corley (M6 east, 25 miles)

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