Motorway Services Online

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Gretna services

Location:

A74(M) between J21 and J22

Signposted from the road.

Postcode:

DG16 5HQ

map and directions

Access/Layout:

Single site located between junctions with access to both sides.

Rating: See the reviews


Formerly and idyllically known as Gretna Green, this is the first service area you'll pass as you head in to Scotland on the A74(M).

Facilities

Catering: Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, The Good Breakfast, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks on the Go Shops: Canny Scot Shop, Waitrose & Partners, WHSmith Amenities: Days Inn, Game Zone, Showers Outdoor Space: Grass lawn and picnic tables by coach park (right of building) Charging Points: GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2; IONITY 350kW CCS; Tesla Supercharger 120kW & 150kW CCS Forecourt: BP, Londis, Costa Express, Dunkin' Donuts, f'real Milkshakes, Rollover, Tango Ice Blast4You, Free Cash Machine

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 for a further 24 hours and HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £29 (or £31 to include a £12 meal voucher).

Prices can be paid in the shop, with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

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

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
Welcome Break
Gretna Service Area
Gretna
Dumfries & Galloway
DG16 5HQ

🌍 Operators & Official Websites:


Trivia and History

Gretna entrance 2019.jpg
One of the two entrances, with blue doors, Starbucks on the left, and Burger King on the right.

Camera icon

Opened by Forte's Little Chef 1972
Re-built and re-branded as Welcome Break 1993
Renamed from Gretna Green 2010

The service area has open access to the B7076. This and the road layout in the area means that it is often treated as an unofficial junction for local road users. It's a hangover from the original road layout on the A74.

The correct number for the road that Gretna is on - A74(M) - is rather fiddly and has never really caught on. Most resources, including Welcome Break's official website, will usually say that Gretna is on the "M74" or "A74". Road signs within the service area used to direct traffic back to the "M74", and one of the official motorway signs still calls it that.

During April 2017, the filling station was sold by BP Express to MRH. MRH later merged with MFG who added a Londis store and four IONITY electric vehicle charging points in 2020.

Pre-Motorway History

Originally Gretna was a pair of petrol stations staggered across the A74. There was a flyover between them, which provided access to each side of the road and the road to Springfield.

Forte built a large amenity building here on the northbound side, with a Little ChefHistory, The Granary restaurant, and the country's first Little Chef Lodge.

The hotel was rebuilt in 1985, where it was used to help relaunch the Little Chef Lodge brand. A further launch event was held on 29 January 1987, where the Scottish Tourist Board chairman Alan Devereux arrived on an ancient Stagecoach, with officials from Forte and local schoolchildren. The hotel became a Travelodge in 1989.

In 1992 this section of the A74 was replaced by a motorway. Strictly speaking only the southbound filling station was affected by this, and a new junction provided access to the old facilities. However, the old facilities were outdated, too small, and not in an ideal position.

As a result, Forte knocked down the old facilities and spent £6 million building a new forecourt, hotel and amenity building on a larger, 26 acre section of land, roughly occupying the same area. New signs were erected pointing to the "Accom. and services", while other sources called the place 'Gretna', even though publicity continued to call it by its full name for some time.

During construction, the remains of a 3000-year-old settlement was discovered, with it partially overlapping with the intended site of the new slip roads. BP and Welcome Break sponsored the excavation and investigation into the site.

The service area was officially opened on 16 June 1993 - one day before fellow A74(M) Welcome Break at Abington opened. A time capsule was buried on site as part of the ceremony.

Due to the site's history, the forecourt at the new service area was branded BP and not managed by Forte/Welcome Break, who would normally operate a Shell when building a large service area from scratch. As a result, when Granada were forced to sell Welcome Break's sites in 1997, Gretna Green was classed as a Forte service area and not a Welcome Break one and it wasn't included in the sale by default. Granada were given the choice of either transferring it to Welcome Break, or keeping it and paying the new Welcome Break £14million instead. As they already owned two nearby service areas, Granada opted not to pay for Gretna Green.

Design

The main amenity building has units built in a courtyard around a Burger King (previously Julie's Pantry) in the centre, with two glass roofs following the main walking paths around the building. This creates a site much larger and airier than nearby Abington.

A key publicised feature of the new service area upon its opening was a tourist information centre branded "Gateway to Scotland". £400,000 was invested in the centre, and on some initial advertising, the whole service area was promoted as the "Gateway to Scotland services" in reference to the facility. The centre closed in 1998.

The Scottish gateway theme continued in the décor of the new building - like most Welcome Break service areas, David Fisher was commissioned to paint a mural for the service area. Here at Gretna, his artwork was themed around Scotland, and it was displayed all around the back wall. It has since been painted over.

Another facility originally at the new service area was the Gretna Green Business Bureau. This was a centre aimed at travelling business people, and it featured two conference suites as well as individual workstations for people working on the move.

In the 1990s, Welcome Break wanted each of their service areas to have a unique shop. At Gretna, this was the Canny Scot Shop, and it is the only one still to be open.

The service area has lengthy access roads, designed to provide relaxation by looking like an upmarket country retreat. The car park was equipped with mock-historic lamp posts, with a round bowl at the top of a short post, like you might find in a hotel or restaurant of the same era. Unusually, these extend all the way along the slip road to the motorway. Posts like these normally light up a car park or pedestrian walkway, but at Gretna they're used to light a road with a 70mph speed limit.

The previous facilities had been positioned roughly where the modern car park is now. Space was left around the hotel building for the hotel to be expanded, which was used in the early 2010s. As a result, the car park is now in two distinct halves, with the circulatory road running through the middle of it.

Although the front of the service area building has been refurbished many times, the interior doors are still in their original blue-and-yellow colour scheme.

The WHSmith store was expanded to take in some of the EAT IN dining space. This was returned to the restaurant when it became Harry Ramsden's branded. The Harry Ramsden's closed in August 2022

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
Annandale Water (23 miles)Services on the A74(M)Todhills (M6, 6 miles)
Southwaite (M6, 21 miles)
Abington (49 miles)Welcome Break servicesnone nearby

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