The Westmorland Family Journey
17th July 2015
The Westmorland Family have been sharing the history of their business with us, from local farm to innovative independent motorway service stations and visitor attractions.
Our story began in 1972 when John and Barbara Dunning, local farmers, set up Tebay Services in partnership with local bakers when the new M6 cut through the Tebay Gorge. It was the first and is still the only family run motorway service station on the UK road network - a small 30 seat café serving home cooked, locally sourced food.
Forty years on and we are still here, still family owned, still farming and still with a fierce passion for, and a pride in, our landscape, our people, our environment and its products.
In 1976 the Tebay Services Hotel opened, five minutes from the services. With its deep pitched roof reminiscent of mountain architecture, open log fires, real ale a restaurant that serves home-cooked food and wide, sweeping views over the surrounding fells, it has been welcoming weary travellers from far and wide ever since. Over the next 10 years, a Caravan Park and Truckstop joined the fold.
In the year 2000, we opened a 90,000 square foot visitor attraction hidden under a grass roof on the edge of the Lake District. Today the Rheged Centre is home to a gallery, shops and cafes plus an IMAX-style cinema screen that regularly streams world-class opera, ballet, theatre and music events from around the globe. And so the innovation continued.
2004 and back to Tebay where the family's farming roots inspired the creation of our two farmshops followed four years later with butcher's counters promoting a 'nose to tail' approach to butchery - beef and lamb produced on the family farm, sold and butchered at our butchery units or cooked and served in our kitchens, ensuring that our use of local produce was as sustainable and accountable as possible.
And then in 2014, a sister for Tebay. Gloucester Services on the M5 is set to do for the South what Tebay has done for the North. A key feature of Gloucester Services is its charity arm, which works with deprived and disadvantaged local communities, distributing around £10 million over 20 years to help develop and support them in innovative ways.
Ultimately, we know that if we stand still we start to move backwards. While we celebrate and are inspired by our heritage and roots, like generations of hill farmers before us, we understand that to survive and ultimately to thrive, we must continue to innovate, keep our 'family' and community close and always believe in what we do.