The Lolworth branch was a Little Chef restaurant located on the westbound side of the A14 near Lolworth, Cambridgeshire.
Address and Onsite Information
ADDRESS: A14 Westbound, Lolworth, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB23 8DR
ONSITE FACILITIES: None
Opened between 1968 and 1972, Lolworth was one of four Little Chefs to be built on the old A604 (now A14) between Cambridge and Huntingdon. At the time the road was single carriageway, therefore it was able to serve traffic in both directions. This particular stretch of the A604 at the time was one of the busiest with a lot of long distance traffic travelling between the Midlands and the Port of Harwich, therefore a Little Chef here would have been sure to attract a lot of passing traffic using the road. Little Chef's owners at the time, Forte, thought so too and in order to maximise the restaurant's potential, they chose a location close to Cambridge, a large city in the area, to help encourage locals. The Little Chef was also built alongside a filling station and the new, expanding settlement of Bar Hill, as well as a nearby RAF (later Army) station at Oakington, so the restaurant had all angles covered, including what should have been a ready supply of staff. However poor wages always made recruitment difficult.
The original building was actually a conversion of a transport cafe and adjoining bungalow owned by the previous operator, George Woolley, who at first retained the petrol station to the front. The later demolition and rebuilding of both, each side by side rather than front to back, probably coincided with the later dualling of the road and redesignation as the A14.
In 1985/86, Lolworth was joined by its eastbound partner, Swavesey, which was located about half a mile west of Lolworth. It opened following the opening of the dualling of the road, depriving Lolworth of eastbound traffic.
In 1986, Lolworth received a Little Chef Lodge hotel in order to cater for the weary traveller. However, this was later rebranded as Travelodge by 1989.
Owing to its prime location beside the busy A14, Forte wasted no time in adding a Little Chef Coffee stop to the building in the early 90s. In the Granada era, the Coffee Stop was replaced with a Burger King along with many other Coffee Stop sites. The Burger King however closed in the mid 2000s.
In 2014, the Little Chef at Lolworth closed. Not because it was an underperforming site but in order to make way for a major refurbishment with a similar design to the 'Wonderfully British' makeover which took place at 10 restaurants in 2011. Not only was Lolworth the first site to receive a major refurbishment in 2014, it was also the first site to recieve a major refurbishment under the ownership of the Kout Food Group. As part of the rennovations, the long lost Burger King was resurrected.
In May 2017, the Little Chef and Burger King were both closed down. It is believed that new owners Euro Garages decided against keeping the site, due to upcoming plans to widen the A14 near Lolworth. The BP filling station also ceased trading, leaving just the Travelodge hotel to soldier on alone, although this later closed in 2019. The once busy services now serves as a small compound site for works vehicles working on the new A14.
In 2020, the road was widened, but it missed the service area. However, it was announced there couldn't have been an exit to a facility as small as Lolworth.