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Michaelwood services

Welcome Break
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsMichaelwood services
Road:M5 between J13 and J14

Address:Welcome Break
Michaelwood Service Area
Lower Wick
GL11 6DD
Telephone number:01454 260631
Signposted from the road?Yes
Grid reference:ST704954 (SABRE Maps)
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, connected by a pedestrian footbridge.
Visit Michaelwood/Welcome Break's official website
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Two services staggered along the M5 in a small strip of woodland.


Catering: Burger King, Quick Break (seasonal opening), Starbucks, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Yorkshire Tea
northbound only: Subway
southbound only: Harry Ramsden's, KFC
Shops: Waitrose, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Free Cash Machine, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming
northbound only: Meeting Room
Motel: Days Innbook (northbound only) Forecourt: BP, BP Connect, Wild Bean Café, AdBlue Containers

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £5 for 2 to 6 hours and £12 for more than 6 hours. HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £24, or £26 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.

Trivia and History

Allegedly the only service area to be named after a TV presenter (Heston might contest that), Michaelwood is actually pronounced 'Mick-all-wood', despite some road signs even referring to it as Michael Wood.

The filling stations are operated by BP Express.

Design and Development

Michaelwood services plan.
The original front of the services.

When the motorways were being engineered, they appear to have under-estimated how many people would drive to the West Country during the summer. Even when Michaelwood was being designed in the 1960s, the formulas said very few people would be using the services, so two temporary buildings were built to hold the fort until the traffic levels had risen enough to warrant building full services.

The temporary buildings were deliberately placed next to the motorway, so that the best position (offering "woodland views") would become parking areas that could easily have new buildings built on them. However when it came to it, that plan was cancelled and the temporary facilities were expanded. New recruits at the Ministry of Transport described it as "incomprehensible".

This inadvertently created the unusual layout where the two sides are completely identical, as they both have the amenity building tucked away at the back.

Applications for the original temporary site were made by Mobil, Esso, Texaco and a joint entry from Shell and BP. The amenity building consisted of toilets and a workshop on one side of a walkway, and a shop and a snack bar on the other. This walkway was then extended to offer more facilities. Originally the restaurant had large windows, a brown tiled floor, green bench seats and oak-coloured tables.

The contract was renegotiated without being opened to rival bids. Mobil had previously tried to hand their contract back so they could bid for a better one. According to Welcome Break, it opened on the 12 December 1971. It was then sold in 1979 (to Ross), and again in 1988 (to Welcome Break).

Thornbury Rural District Council wanted to see a caravan park built here, but the MSA Board said it would be difficult to run and would be abused.

It also seems to have some of the highest-standard slip roads of all motorway services.

Recent Changes

In 2001, Welcome Break considered completely rebuilding the entire site, moving the amenity building closer to the front. Instead, in 2011 the car park layout was changed around. This created a long car park with a snack bar at the back, trying to manage the high flow of traffic during the holiday period.

Survey Results

Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.

In Spring 2017, Transport Focus calculated a 89% satisfaction score for the northbound services and 93% for the southbound services.

In 2015, the services were rated as 4 star by VisitEngland.

In May 2012 and August 2011, VisitEngland rated the services as 3 stars.

In 2008 the services won a five star loo award.

In 2007, the services won a five star loo award. In 2006 they got four stars.

Also in 2006, Holiday Which? rated the services at 3/5.

In 2000, The AA rated the services as "poor", because of its "unattractive buildings".

In 1991, a Which? survey "recommended" the services.

A 1978 government review said that the services were just a large and badly-managed petrol station, which was "giving service stations a bad name".

In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the services as "appalling", calling it "drab", "scruffy" and "tired", with a poor choice of food, incompetent cooking and dirty toilets with no hand driers.


Gloucester (15 miles)
Oldbury (9 miles)
Services on the M5 Gordano (16 miles)
Magor (M4 west, 20 miles)
Severn View (M48, 12 miles)
Leigh Delamere (M4 east, 27 miles)
Hopwood Park (M42, 62 miles) Welcome Break services Gordano (16 miles)
Cardiff Gate (M4 west, 40 miles)
Membury (M4 east, 56 miles)

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