- The Hope and Champion at exit 2 of the M40 is no longer on the market
A bizarrely located Wetherpoons at a motorway service station has been saved from closing to the delight of stranded drivers who say it’s like finding an ‘oasis in the desert’.
Last year Wetherspoons announced that its Hope and Champion bar at Extra Services, off Junction 2 of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, was one of 32 sites up for sale.
But on Friday the pub chain confirmed it was no longer in the market – and many stranded visitors raised their glasses to the good news.
When it opened in January 2014, the controversial location of the £1.2million pub sparked controversy, with the RAC calling it a ‘risky and frankly unnecessary move’.
Road safety campaigners Brake called the pub, named after the old stagecoaches ferrying people between London and Oxford, ‘a serious concern, presenting a potentially deadly temptation to drivers’.
But the first pub to open at a motorway service station has become something of a saving grace for stranded drivers waiting for the RAC to drive them home.
Amanda Ginger, who was recently stranded for hours at the gas station with her mother, said: “Obviously no one should be drinking and driving – so I have to admit I was taken aback when I heard talk about opening a pub on a highway.
“But having been broken down here for several hours with my mother before, on her birthday, and having had no other way to pass the time, and being literally unable to drive anywhere, I have to say that the view of Good old Spoons was like an oasis in the desert.
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“We had a few glasses of wine and something to eat while waiting for the RAC, who then drove us home with our car. It’s not the best birthday for the old darling, but sitting in a McDonald’s would have been worse.
“If you are going to break down and know you have a lift home at some point, you may as well go to the pub in my eyes.
“The parking lot was full of tow trucks, so obviously a lot of people had the same idea.”
Meanwhile, when MailOnline visited earlier this week, a man was enjoying a pint of Guinness al fresco, facing a lake.
He said: “I know I drink a pint at half past ten in the morning, but I’m from Sri Lanka so I’m in a different time zone.
“I’m staying in the hotel next door and I’m waiting for my room to be ready. I won’t be driving anywhere soon.
Matt Curran, 47, from Preston said: “I think it’s a great idea to have a pub here. This gives you a bit more variety. You know what you’re getting at Wetherspoons rather than fast food. These are decent prices.
Matt, who was traveling to Battersea to install large LED screens for outside broadcast, said: ‘I’m not sure I’ll be able to drink at a motorway service station but if you’re staying at the Ibis it’s not is not serious.
“I had a pint last night because we were stopping over and had breakfast there this morning.”
His colleague Travis Coghill, 28, from Northamptonshire, said: “I think it’s a good idea. It’s something different and has a variety of food rather than McDonald’s and KFC.
Most customers drank meals and coffee at a reasonable price of £2.45 a cup with free refills.
One man said: “It’s good value for money. I just ate a fries. You can have coffee, tea or lemonade. If you go to other places here you pay a lot more for a coffee.
“I don’t think people use it as a pub. They use it for food because it’s much cheaper than going into the main part.
Isabel Martin, 41, from New York and touring bassist with the band Jeffrey Lewis, described the pub as charming. She said: “I didn’t expect it. I just arrived.
“I look forward to visiting English pubs in the countryside. I can’t wait to have my first pint.
People entering the pub through the attractive service area are greeted by a sign on the door which reads: ‘Think – don’t drink and drive. »
One woman said: “We just had a coffee there, but I just don’t think they should be selling alcohol here. People shouldn’t drink alcohol there and get back in the car and drive.
Paul Turner, 45, who was traveling to Oxford, had been to McDonalds. He said: “I don’t think they should be selling alcohol at all. If you are traveling by car to get to a place, you should not drink. It’s just a temptation for people.
A woman en route to Staffordshire said: ‘I thought it was strange having a pub on a motorway.
“If there are two of you and one of them isn’t driving, it doesn’t matter. You just have to use common sense. We hope they will.
Maddie Dix, 25, a nurse from Wiltshire, on her way to a camping holiday in Dorset, said: “They believe people are not stupid. It’s like a pub you find in an airport. They are looking for an airport vibe.
Alex Jones, 25, an engineer from Newport, South Wales, said: “It feels weird to be able to buy alcohol there.
“You just hope people don’t go there and then keep driving. They must use common sense.
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