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Sandbach services


M6 between J16 and J17

Signposted from the road.


CW11 2FZ

map and directions


Two sites located between junctions, connected by a pedestrian footbridge.

Rating: See the reviews

Bouncing back from past poor performances, Sandbach has now been upgraded to the point where it's almost unremarkable - if a little too concreted.


COVID-19 update: These details were updated on 3 March 2021, with changes caused by COVID-19.
Catering: on both sides: Costa, McDonald's, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Costa Drive Thru
plus northbound only: Skwishee Iced Drinks
Shops: WHSmith Main Amenities: Showers, Brexit Document Advice Point, HGV Covid-19 Test Centre Hotel: none Charging Points: northbound only: Ecotricity Forecourt: BP, Shop, Wild Bean Café, Air1 AdBlue, Free Cash Machine

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £12 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £28, or £31 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details or in the shop. The location code is 5265 (northbound) and 5266 (southbound).

The fees are strictly enforced by GroupNexus.

This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
RoadChef Motorways Ltd
Sandbach Motorway Services Area
CW11 2FZ

  • 📞 Telephone number: 01270 767134
  • 🗺 Grid reference: SJ775603

🌍 Operators (Official Websites):

Trivia and History

Sandbach southbound 2011.jpg
The services before refurbishment.

Camera icon

Site identified 1960s
Services opened 1975

An Ecotricity charging point has been installed here on the southbound side here for many years but due to power supply issues to the new charging points, it has not been operational.

As part of their plan to focus more on retail, the filling stations were sold by Roadchef to BP in August 2017.

In September 2014 the southbound services formed a makeshift drop-off point for donations to the Cheshire Dogs Home near Warrington, after an incident at its sister site sparked a surge in donations which brought the M6 to a standstill.

The service area hit the news in 1992 as its car park was being used by revellers for Saturday night open-air acid parties.

In December 2002, a couple from Alsager in Staffordshire renewed their vows in the Costa Coffee unit here. 50 guests of friends and family were also given a tour of the service area and a choir sang hymns on the footbridge.

The southbound side included a Regus Express meeting room for a time. This was removed in 2019.


See also: M6 Service Area Planning

The services were one of few infill sites (where the sliproads were laid out before anyone had come forward to build the rest of it) which actually went ahead as planned, although early plans were for a truckstop only.

It originally consisted of two roads running close to the motorway, with the Rear Access and southbound maintenance compound towards the south end. That compound proved to be difficult, taking up a lot of space and leaving little room for landscaping. This would cause the services to look tired before it had even opened.

The contract was opened to bids in 1972, as Knutsford needed to expand but Rank refused to do it. It was described it as a 12 acre site, aimed at commercial traffic. Today it still has a HGV-friendly concrete surface all over.

Bids to run the services were received from Ross, Blue Boar, Roadchef, Hanover Grand Ltd and Manor Holdings Ltd, with Roadchef offering the highest rent.

In the late '90s, RoadChef had a plan to introduce a Wimpy drive-thru here but this never happened.


Sandbach services bridge.
The bridge in one of its worst states.

The services were the first in the country to have one large restaurant, instead of several smaller ones.

It was also the first services to be built entirely by Roadchef, with Killington Lake being owned by BP. It opened in August 1976. The bridge - which may well pre-date the services - had its distinctive covering added in 1978.

Fuel was initially sold by BP, Shell, Esso and Mobil. By the 1990s it had concentrated to just BP northbound and Shell southbound.

A 1986 report said between 100 and 150 people were employed here.

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 84% for the southbound services. By 2018 this had risen to 98% and 90% respectively, and in 2019 it was a mixed picture with scores of 83% and 94%.

In 2015, VisitEngland rated both sides of the services as 3 stars. In May 2012, the northbound side fell down to 2 stars, but in August 2011 both sides received 3 stars.

In late 2006 the BBC's 'The Money Programme' took a look at the services. Whilst the northbound side was almost acceptable, southbound was dirty and the toilets had several broken locks.

In 2006, Holiday Which? graded the services at 2/5. This isn't bad, considering that there were a handful of 1/5s awarded.

In 2004, Good Housekeeping rated the services as two stars, calling it "mediocre and predictable".

The services were inspected by The AA on 3 and 4 April 2004. These are their results:

Road safety and parking:Good
Outdoor facilities:Very Poor
Access and indoor facilities:Poor
Catering:Very Poor
Shop:Very Good
Communications:Very Poor
Hygiene:Very Poor
Pricing:Very Poor
Final Score:Very Poor

Here the services were chosen as the worst in Europe, with the inspectors saying "You could stop for petrol and perhaps buy some provisions, but we wouldn't recommend taking a break there". The shops and staff were the only good things found: it had poor facilities, litter "everywhere", a dirty restaurant with a poor variety of unappetising food, high prices, dirty showers, the building and its facilities looked poorly maintained, it had no information and it had very little to help the disabled. Even the car park was poorly marked and poorly maintained.

In 1991, Sandbach came top in a Which? survey.

A 1978 government review described the services as "pleasant but disjointed".

In 1977, Egon Ronay rated the services as "poor", but he did say it was "light and airy".


Keele (11 miles)
Barthomley (5 miles)
Derby and Burton (A50 east, 43 miles)
Services on the M6Knutsford (12 miles)
Stafford (South) (M6 southbound, 23 miles)
Norton Canes (41 miles)
Roadchef servicesChester (M56 west, 32 miles)

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