Little Chef Wiki
Rainton North
Name Rainton North
Number  637
Year Opened 1994/95
Year Closed 2009
Road A1
Location Rainton, Thirsk
County North Yorkshire
Postcode YO7 3FA

The Rainton North branch was a former Little Chef restaurant located on the northbound side of the A1 near Rainton, North Yorkshire. 

Address and Onsite Information[]

ADDRESS: A1 Northbound, Rainton, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 3FA

ONSITE FACILITIES: Thompson Commercials Ltd.


The site was first built in the 1978 as a dual sided service station by an operator known as Station Supreme, with each side sporting a filling station and a cafe under the Station Supreme brand. The northbound cafe opened inside of a large, distinctive building with a sloping metal roof.

In 1983, the Station Supreme brand didn't last and the two cafes at Rainton closed for good. Fortunately, Happy Eater bought the two buildings at the services and reopened them both as Happy Eater restaurants. In the process, the original southbound cafe was demolished in order to make way for a more modern building with the Happy Eater building design of the era, meaning that although both sides traded as Happy Eater restaurants, they looked completely different. 

By the mid 90s, Forte, who acquired Happy Eater in 1986, decided that it was going to phase out the Happy Eater brand and replace it with the more profitable Little Chef brand which they also owned. Rainton was one of the first sites to get the treatment with both restaurants changing to Little Chef by 1995. Northbound was painted bright red to reflect Little Chef's branding and then gained a Little Chef Coffee stop at the same time, which was later replaced by a Burger King when Granada took control of Little Chef following their takeover of Forte. In 2006 PRC then opened a Coffee Tempo! branch at Rainton North alongside its Little Chef and BK offerings.

In its Little Chef guise Rainton was a popular site with northbound especially doing a great trade, often recognised as Little Chef's busiest site. It's visibility and distinctive colour, coupled with decent advanced signage and a lack of alternatives on this section of the A1 were surely all contributing factors.

Unfortunately, trouble was brewing as in 2008, there were plans to upgrade the current A1 between Dishforth and Leeming to motorway standard which involved widening the road to three lanes in each direction, consequently resulting in the demise of Rainton Services. In early 2009, the southbound branch closed and the building was demolished soon after closure as the first section of the road was widened. The Little Chef, Burger King and Coffee Tempo! on the northbound side closed in December 2009. Shortly after, the Texaco petrol station was dismantled and the kiosk building was left to stand abandoned just like the main amenity building. Its accesses to and from the motorway have now been severed.

For five years, the main building at Rainton North was left to stand. In 2015, it was finally demolished, meaning that the iconic red landmark of Thirsk can no longer be spotted by travellers on the A1(M). Thompson Commercials Ltd, a specialised Renault dealer acquired the site and trade from the old services to this day.