The story began in 1972 when John and Barbara Dunning, local farmers, set up Tebay Services in partnership with local bakers when the M6 cut through the Lune 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 they are still there, still family owned, still farming and still with a fierce passion for, and a pride in, their landscape, their people, their 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 surroung 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, they 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 cafés plus an IMAX-style cinema screen that regularly streams world-class opera, ballet, theatre and music events from around the globe. So the innovation continued.
2004 and back to Tebay where the family’s farming roots inspired the creation of 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 their butchery units or cooked and served in their kitchens, ensuring that the use of local produce was as sustainable and accountable as possible.
Ultimately, this is a family that know that if they stand still they start to move backwards. While they celebrate and are inspired by their heritage and roots, like generations of hill farmers before them, they understand that to survive and ultimately to thrive, they must continue to innovate, keep their ‘family’ and community close and always believe in what they do.
Take a look at the inspirational story behind the making of the business that is all about the place, Westmorland.