This page is about the current services on the A303. For the former services on the A33, see Popham (A33).
Two separate services at the start of the A303 - the westbound side is the former home to probably the most famous Little Chef in the country.
Catering: westbound only: Starbucks
and eastbound only: Starbucks Drive Thru Charging Points: westbound only: Pod Point Forecourt: westbound only: BP, M&S Simply Food, Wild Bean Café, AdBlue Containers
and eastbound only: Esso, Spar, Greggs, Starbucks on the Go, AdBlue4You, Free Cash Machine
Short stay customer parking is available for cars. Short stay HGV parking is only available on the westbound side.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
- 🗺 Grid reference: SU538441
🌍 Operators (Official Websites):
Trivia and History
The history of a service area here dates back to the 1950s where a filling station was built on the old single carriageway A30, which is now the eastbound carriageway. It was known as Cocksford Down. The filling station gained Esso branding in the early 1980s.
Trusthouse Forte then added the Micheldever branch of Little Chef to the east of the existing filling station in 1985, allowing the site to market itself as the last services before traffic joined the new M3 motorway.
The road passing the service area was upgraded to dual carriageway in the late 1980s, becoming the final section of the A303 linking Micheldever Station with the M3. The dualling of the road here meant that the original service area was only accessible to eastbound traffic so in 1987, BP outlined plans for a westbound filling station and restaurant. Plans were granted and in 1989 also planned to a hotel to the plans but these plans were later withdrawn.
The westbound filling station opened in 1991 as a BP site however it wasn't until 1995 when the filling station was joined by the Popham branch of Little Chef, possibly being inspired by the airfield opposite. The restaurant gained a Burger King franchise in 1998, which was added in a new extension. This later became a Coffee Tempo! store.
The eastbound Little Chef closed as part of the 2004 closures, and became an independent café called Popham Diner.
The westbound filling station gained a Wild Bean Café in 2004. Following this, Esso redeveloped the eastbound forecourt in 2005 adding a new canopy, pumps and larger sales building. The new sales building reopened as one of Esso's On the Run cafes with a Costa offering. The westbound Wild Bean Café was also later joined by a M&S Simply Food store in 2007.
Access to a builder's yard is also provided through the eastbound services.
Popham in the Media
The westbound Little Chef featured in a three-hour documentary on Channel 4 in January 2009 which saw Heston Blumenthal try to completely refresh the brand. Popham was chosen as a typical Little Chef restaurant and after several experiments, it was closed for a two-week refit marketed as "Little Chef has changed".
The new restaurant used brighter colours inside and some novelty items such as the recordings in the toilets.
For months after the documentary was aired, the site (which used to be near-empty), was packed with customers, with reports of customers queueing to enter the car park and facing long waits inside.
Despite this, it took boss Ian Pegler several months before he agreed to roll it out. It was then trialled at two more services, before a lightweight version was rolled out.
Despite the refurbished Popham Little Chef initially receiving very positive customer feedback, as Little Chef continued to pass between owners some of them were not willing to provide the money required to keep Popham at the top of its game.
As a result, even though Popham continued to look different from most of the ageing Little Chefs, observations of poor maintenance and unhappy staff began to increase.
Euro Garages bought all existing Little Chefs in February 2017, and Popham later closed in July 2017 as part of a nationwide shut-down.
Euro Garages also acquired the eastbound filling station in September 2015 from Esso, with them now referring to the site as Micheldever. As part of the takeover, they replaced the On the Run Café and Costa offerings with new Greggs and Subway stores. Due to lack of custom, the Subway store later closed in September 2019.
Following the closure of the westbound Little Chef, in late 2017, Euro Garages converted the former restaurant into a Starbucks store.
Popham Diner also closed in early 2019 and was also acquired by Euro Garages, who demolished the restaurant building replacing it with a Starbucks Drive Thru, opening in early 2020.
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The Buck (A303 eastbound, 8 miles)