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Pont Abraham services

Location:

M4 at J49
(also accessible to traffic on the A48 and the A483)

Signposted from the road.

Post Code:

SA4 0FU

map and directions

Access/Layout:

Single site located at a junction.

Rating: See the reviews



Quaint Roadchef services at the far end of the M4, and for a long time it was their only presence on the road. It is one of the only services in the region to offer full facilities overnight.

Facilities

Catering: Costa, McDonald's, Costa Express, Dots Donuts Shops: WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Family Fun Hub, Jackpot £500 Motel: none Forecourt: Esso, Spar, Starbucks on the Go, AdBlue4You

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £12 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £23, or £25 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details or in the shop or restaurant. The location code is 5269.

The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.

Contact Details

Address:
Road Chef Ltd
Pont Abraham Services
M4 Junction 49
Llanedi
Pontarddulais
Swansea
SA4 0FU

  • Telephone number: 01792 884663
  • Grid reference: SN574074

Operators (Official Websites):


Trivia and History

Pont Abraham amenity building.jpg
The building as it looked for many years, nestled in the hillside

Camera icon

Services opened 1983

A Costa drive thru has been proposed here, to be built by the entrance.

Name

The name of this service area is very unusual, at least as far as motorway services go. Firstly it is not named after a settlement but a landmark, and secondly that landmark is named in Welsh - 'Pont' being Welsh for bridge.

Before the motorway was built, the A48 used to cross the River Gwili on a bridge which was positioned in the middle of where the roundabout now is. That bridge was known locally as Pont Abram, after the stonemason who built it. The new roundabout took the same name - modernised to become Pont Abraham, as did the service station that was added to it.

For a while Roadchef claimed that many of the services's staff are fluent Welsh speakers. This claim has since been dropped, but being at the far end of the M4, it is certainly the most Welsh of the motorway services.

Planning

At the time Pont Abraham was built, all motorway services so far had been planned and supervised by the Ministry of Transport, based in London.

When the M4 was built through Wales, the Welsh Office took responsibility for all aspects of it. As the M4 has closely-spaced junctions and a lot of nearby towns, finding the right places to build service stations would have been a long and difficult task for the relatively small Welsh Office. As a result, private developers were asked to do all the legwork themselves.

Private developers liked the idea of being able to choose exactly where their service station would be. Roadchef were the first to take advantage of it, and went straight for one of the most lucrative spots: the only roundabout with no flyover, so everybody had to use it. They must have been very keen to get this spot, because Pont Abraham opened 11 years before the M4 at Swansea was finished.

The down-side of this system was that the Welsh Office couldn't guarantee anyone that a rival service area wouldn't be built next door, and about 5-10 years later Swansea West opened just down the road.

Incidentally, in 1992 this planning policy was adopted in England.

Building Design and Branding

Pont Abraham uses a brick-courtyard design set into the hillside. That hillside isn't always apparent, but it is so steep the filling station is nearly covered by it. The building itself is typical of Roadchef's from that era, but more sympathetic to the local environment: it's possible that this is because Roadchef deliberately chose the location.

There used to be a hill figure of a teapot and teacup on the hillside, constructed in 1992 to enhance the services's entry into the National Tea Council "Motorway's Best Cup of Tea" competition, which was removed in the mid-2000s.

Owing to its low footfall, Pont Abraham escaped many refurbishments, and until 2015 it still had green The Orchards (the '90s Roadchef restaurant) furniture and a sheet of brown-tainted windows separating the restaurant from the main building. This restaurant ended up being re-branded as Costa and a Restbite counter. The Costa café was refurbished during September 2015 and the Restbite closed and reopened as a McDonald's the following November.

A Welsh craft shop, tourist information centre and Roadchef shop were combined to create the current WHSmith. Plans to replace them with two fast food outlets in 2006 didn't go ahead.

Gaming facilities are provided in a separate part of the building, with its own access, named Family Fun Hub.

Both the restaurant and the petrol station were developed and operated by Roadchef. In early 2017 the forecourt was sold to Euro Garages, as Roadchef wanted to focus on catering. Euro Garages changed the forecourt from Texaco to Esso.

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
Swansea West (6 miles) Services on the M4 end of road
Cross Hands (4 miles)
Magor (68 miles) Roadchef services none

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