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12,000 portions of fish and chips and 140,000 cups of tea: A revolution is taking place at Hartshead Moor services

Rich, freshly-ground coffee permeates the air mixing enticingly with the smell of hot home-cooked dishes. There is a counter with tempting-looking paninis crammed with exotic fillings.

This is Hart-shead Moor near Brighouse – the country's highest motorway service station – a regular stop-off point for people travelling to either coast.

When I pull into the eastbound section, I notice a juice bar and diners sitting out on a decked terrace, overlooking lush, green parkland.

So where are the grease-soaked, transport cafe-style breakfasts of yesteryear? Where is the tasteless coffee dispensed from a machine in polystyrene cups?

Has there been some kind of service station revolution that I – and goodness knows how many more motorway travellers – have missed?

Site director for the Hartshead Welcome Break complex Andy Jagger agrees we probably have. "Customers' needs have changed and you have to move with the times to keep them happy," he says.

"People now travel at all times and they want food round the clock. Good food at that."

Andy tells me all we see is freshly made on the premises and the restaurant staff include a team of trained coffee baristas (the highest level of competency training to prepare the perfect espresso.)

I admit to feelings of guilt at not quite appreciating the services available at my local motorway service station. But I am not alone.

"For most people, service stations are just somewhere to fill up with petrol and maybe use the toilet.

Around 70 per cent of our customers don't buy anything. They just pass through, but that's the nature of the business," he says.

Those who do pull in could not fail to be amazed by the new state-of-the-art toilets.

"There's over a million pounds worth of toilets here. You have to provide the best for travellers", says Andy.

And there is no doubt this is something Welcome Break at Hartshead is doing. It opened in 1972 and has grown to become a self-contained community, and one of Calderdale's biggest employers with 200 staff.

Andy and his team also do their bit for local and national charities. As well as raising money for the British Legion and Children In Need, they also sponsor a police community services officer. Andy also sits on a local crime prevention panel.

Andy, originally from Huddersfield, has been site director for the past 16 months but his career started back in the early 1990s at Hartshead Moor.

"I was straight out of college. My family were all in catering and I was determined I wouldn't be and now look at me," he laughs.

He has had stints at Sheffield Woohall, Hopwood Park, Birmingham, Burton Wood, Warrington and Charnock Richard, Preston.

Today at Hartshead there's a 38-room hotel, a clutch of well-known shops including WH Smith, Burger King and KFC.

Long-distance lorry drivers can benefit from safe overnight parking and showers.

The whole site, both eastbound and westbound complexes, make up a total of 16 acres and each week alone 25,000 people drive into each of them – including the odd famous face.

"Colleen Rooney came in just before her wedding. She was with a whole bunch of her family and they were great.

"They all had KFC and when she noticed we were collecting for Children In Need she gave a sizeable donation.

"We get premiership footballers in. We've had Rio Ferdinand, Ronaldo and manager Alex Ferguson has stopped for the odd coffee."

Andy and his team are now in the middle of the summer rush – but despite the extra pressure there is no compromise on quality or value.

"At one time people liked to say service stations were the modern-day Dick Turpins but I'd dispute that. We strive for top quality and great value, always watching high street prices and being as competitive as we can," he says.

In a year we serve...

12,000 fish and chip meals

15,000 Burger King Whoppers

350,000 litres of soft drinks and mineral water – the equivalent of a reservoir

140,000 cups of tea

80,000 cappuccinos

350,000 chocolate bars

15,000 baguettes

25,000 paninis

She was with a whole bunch of her family and they were great.

“They all had KFC and when she noticed we were collecting for Children In Need she gave a sizeable donation.

“We get premiership footballers in. We’ve had Rio Ferdinand, Ronaldo and manager Alex Ferguson has stopped for the odd coffee.”

Andy and his team are now in the middle of the summer rush – but despite the extra pressure there is no compromise on quality or value.

“At one time people liked to say service stations were the modern-day Dick Turpins but I’d dispute that. We strive for top quality and great value, always watching high street prices and being as competitive as we can,” he says.

 
 
 

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