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Lolworth and Swavesey services

Lolworth and Swavesey
(former)
Road:A14 between J28A and J29
(Google Maps link)
Address:Little Chef
Huntingdon Road
Lolworth
Cambridge
Cambridgeshire
CB23 8DR
Opened:1969
Grid reference:TL378642 (SABRE Maps)
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, with no public connection between them.


Lolworth and Swavesey were a pair of service areas on the A14. Although they were separate facilities and a good mile apart, they effectively operated together in tandem, and have now both been removed from the improved A14.

The westbound (Lolworth) Little ChefHistory opened around 1970 while the eastbound (Swavesey) Little Chef opened in 1984. Confusingly, the Lolworth site was also known as Bar Hill.

In 2000, both sites gained a rival in the Cambridge services, which opened right opposite Swavesey and was considerably larger.

Lolworth

Forte purchased an existing transport café, itself a converted property, which was positioned right next to the Bar Hill forecourt. The restaurant had three pitches to its roof, and was painted white with red stripes.

In 1985 they moved and rebuilt the building in a more modern style, with brown bricks and a low roof. There were plans to add a Little Chef Lodge at the time; the initial application was refused but it was advertised as opening in 1988. It possibly opened as a Travelodge.

The filling station was branded Fina, who called it "Lolworth service station", with "a PUNCH station!" written across its canopy. It had just two filling rows, and a small sales shop to the side. In 1998 the petrol station was destroyed when a lorry collided with it. It later became Total, changing to BP in 2012. It was operated by MRH and had an unbranded shop and a Costa Express machine.

Lolworth gained a Coffee Stop in the 1990s, which became a Café Nescafe and then Burger King, and was then later removed. Traditionally, Lolworth had always been overlooked, because all Little Chef's investment went down the road to Fenstanton. In 2014, Lolworth Little Chef was finally treated to a major refurbishment, the first to be done by Kout Food Group. This saw the Burger King rebuilt.

On 14 May 2017, the restaurant and petrol station at the westbound services closed to make way for the A14 widening works. From this point, signs on the A14 advised traffic that there is "no fuel or services", while a sign for Cambridge services has been erected a few miles before. The Travelodge then later closed in early 2019.

After the new A14 opened in May 2020, the old Lolworth site stands abandoned and isolated. The new road was designed to motorway standards, so even if some of Lolworth's land wasn't needed to widen the road, there still couldn't have been an exit to a facility so small.

It is possible that when the bridleway is finished, access to the old car park may be possible via that. It is likely that the land will eventually be cleared and become part of the neighbouring industrial estate.

Swavesey

Herbie's American Diner.
Herbie's American Diner is now on the A1307 local road, formerly the A14 eastbound.

Swavesey has been somewhat more fortunate, and has had a new lease of life. The old A14 eastbound is now the A1307, and while Swavesey is no longer an official service area and is no longer signposted, it still continues to trade.

The Little Chef and Texaco 'Six O Four' petrol station have closed, probably a consequence of the competition from Cambridge. The petrol station became an American hand car wash, and is now a hot tub showroom.

The Travelodgebook is still there and they still own the land. The restaurant became JK's fish and chip shop in around 2013, and is now an independent American diner called Herbie's Dinerwebsite. The building has had a significant makeover to suit the new American theme, and serves a wide menu of pizzas, burgers and milkshakes. Despite the A1307 being much quieter in its new role, Herbie's is still a well-known landmark.