Westmorland are an operator who stand out for being family-owned. They are markedly different from the rest, as they are now the UK's only significant, independent operator.
As an operator, their roots begin at their busiest site, Tebay. With no major operators interested in taking it on, a local family decided to do so. Meanwhile, a government parliamentary secretary visited Germany and was impressed by the food offered by family-run service stations, and suggested the UK did the same. Little did he know that an isolated but important success story was brewing back in the UK.
It was a long time before Tebay became an established part of the motorway network, but when it did the nation took its uniqueness to heart. The company's growth was slow and steady, but 42 years later in 2014 they made a huge leap by opening the first part of Gloucester services, and acquiring the independent Cairn Lodge.
Both of their qualifying services were among the first six to be given five stars by VisitEngland. In 2019, Transport Focus graded Westmorland 98% for customer satisfaction, putting them well ahead of every other operator.
The journey hasn't always been so smooth. In 1979, representatives of the Department of Transport finished a disappointing meeting with Mr Dunning with their notes saying "he is a seemingly naive hill farmer". Clearly this hasn't hindered Westmorland's ambition: perhaps that's because Westmorland management has got better with experience, or perhaps it was actually the Department of Transport who were approaching things from the wrong angle.
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