M5 southbound between J21 and J22
Signposted from the road.
map and directions
Two sites located between junctions, with no public connection between them.
Roadchef's half of the split services, for southbound traffic. The service area is a bit more modern than its northbound counterpart, and it's bigger too.
Catering: Chozen Noodle (seasonal opening), Costa Coffee, Fresh Food Café, New York Bakery Co. (seasonal opening), McDonald's, The Cornish Bakery (seasonal opening), Costa Express, Dolcetti Ice Cream, Krispy Kreme, Skwishee Iced Drinks, Costa Drive Thru Shops: Phone Tech, SPAR, WHSmith Amenities: Children's Play Area, Jackpot £500, Showers Outdoor Space: Fenced, grass picnic area at back of car park Charging Points: GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2 Forecourt: Shell, Select, Deli by Shell, Costa Express
First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £13 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £29, or £32 to include a £10 food voucher.
Prices are paid using NexusPay or in the shop. The location code is 2212.
The fees are strictly enforced by GroupNexus.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
Roadchef Motorways Ltd
Brent Knoll Picnic Area
- 📞 Telephone number: 01934 750888
- 🗺 Grid reference: ST359526
- 📌 what3words: ///blanking.traffic.loads
🌍 Operators & Official Websites:
Trivia and History
The old entrance to the services.
When the M5 opened in the 1970s, the Department for the Environment weren't sure how they were going to strike the balance between building enough service areas for people to be able to rest, and building too many service areas meaning they wouldn't be very profitable. This was especially problematic in Somerset, where the M5 was expected to be much busier in summer than in winter.
There was talk about Sedgemoor (originally known as 'East Brent') opening as a single service area with facilities all on one side. Even this was deemed to be too much, so it opened with only a car park and toilets. It was named Brent Knoll picnic area, and it was spaciously arranged so that it could one day be turned into a full service area.
The barren car park led to concerns from users about crime. Inspectors said the toilets were "full of vandalism". Roadchef (the owners of the next service area to the south) were soon invited to set up temporary catering facilities on the southbound side.
Roadchef opened what they called a 'semi-permanent' portable building, which included a shop. They promoted this as their Brent Knoll branch. It would get very busy during peak times.
Main Service Area
Roadchef reached an agreement where they could take over the whole southbound picnic area in September 1985, turning it into a full motorway service area. Support came from Sedgemoor District Council, which may have influenced the new site opening as Sedgemoor services.
Work progressed quickly in time for the next summer rush. The new service area was opened in May 1986, in a ceremony attended by Peter Bottomley MP. It was a £3 million investment that created 60 jobs.
The main building took a horseshoe shape, and had four doors along the front: the main entrance, a takeaway unit, an AA and RAC office, and a tourist information centre. Inside the main entrance was a short corridor, with a 200-seat Orchard's Restaurant on the left. The shop (branded RoadShop) was on the right, with a conference room behind it. The toilets and game arcade were at the back. The toilets and corridor formed one end of the horseshoe, with offices at the other. An outdoor dining area sat in the middle.
Outside there was a narrow HGV parking area that had to fit within the land available, and a new Esso petrol station.
A plan to build a RoadChef Lodge on land to the far north of the site was approved in 1988 but not implemented. The hotel was proposed again in 1995.
In 1990, a conservatory was erected in the middle of the horseshoe area.
The shop gained more space when the takeaway unit and breakdown units closed. The far end of the shop became Wimpy in 1995. Roadchef had looked at moving Wimpy and Costa to the conservatory area, making space for Dr Beak's Chicken, but they ruled this out.
The small HGV parking area was expanded in 1998.
In around 2001 the tourist information centre closed and moved to a new building outside, making more space for the shop. In about 2005 a new Costa was built in an extended area at the front of the building. The restaurant has been Foodfayre, onRoute and Restbite, while the shop went on to become reStore, and then WHSmith. In 2010 Wimpy became The Burger Company.
Major changes took place in late 2015. The dining area was given a large extension, totally changing its appearance. The entrance was moved to the new dining area, and customers would have to snake around the seating before returning to the original corridor. The old Costa became McDonald's and the old Burger Company became Game On.
The plan was that the new dining area would have Hot Food Co and Costa, but instead the former consisted of a Fresh Food Cafe and Chozen Noodle unit. A larger than expected extension was provided with a new SPAR shop and Fonebitz all opening in early 2016. During the building work, a temporary seating area was placed at the front of the former entrance to the services in the form of a gazebo tent.
A Costa Drive Thru opened in June 2018, built on the main road opposite the car park. Some of the signs which were removed to create this were original to the service area's construction.
The very variable traffic flow through here has caused a number of temporary takeaway units to position themselves outside the main entrance. These have included Costa, Lovington's, Carte D'Or and Pasty Presto over the years.
Following the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on indoor dining, Roadchef reinstated the outdoor kiosks at the front of the amenity building during the summer of 2021. This area featured a 'Frostinos' kiosk serving a selection of Costa's iced drinks range, The Cornish Bakery kiosk, a Garden Square Deli kiosk and a Costa pod.
The Garden Square Deli kiosk was later repurposed in the summer of 2022 to serve New York Bakery Co.'s range of bagels.
|Gordano (19 miles)||Services on the M5||Bridgwater (13 miles)|
|Magor (M4 west, 35 miles)||Roadchef services||Taunton Deane (24 miles)|
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