Fleet services

Coordinates: 51°17′41″N 0°51′20″W / 51.29483°N 0.85545°W / 51.29483; -0.85545
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Fleet Services
Original Southbound building pictured in 2005
Fleet Services is located in Hampshire
Fleet Services
Fleet Services
Location within Hampshire
Coordinates:51°17′41″N 0°51′20″W / 51.29483°N 0.85545°W / 51.29483; -0.85545
OperatorWelcome Break
Date opened6 June 1973
WebsiteWelcome Break

Fleet Services is a motorway service station on the M3 near Fleet. It is operated by Welcome Break.


Outline permission was given in January 1972.[1] Construction started in February 1972 by Sydney Green & Sons.[2]

The site opened on Wednesday 6 June 1973 at 10.15am. The first customers were a coach from Esher travelling west, who arrived at 10.25am.[3][4] It was originally built in a Scandinavian style and in 1992 won Loo of the Year Award.[5] Before 2001, when Winchester services opened, it was the only service station on the M3.

In 2006, it was one of the first service stations to carry the new corporate identity for Welcome Break, and along with it came a new Burger King franchise, which then made Fleet Services one of the few motorway service stations to have a Burger King, a KFC and a McDonald's co-exist at the same service station. The McDonald's was part of a 1995 Welcome Break campaign to roll out franchises throughout its chain, but when Welcome Break's parent company was taken over by Granada, the latter's rival franchise of Burger King was instead introduced throughout the chain, but Fleet services (and Woodall), part of the original plan, continued to carry McDonald's despite this. However, the McDonald's closed in March 2020, owing to licensing agreements.[6]

Fleet cheat[edit]

Fleet services were well known for the 'Fleet cheat' [7] in which drivers took a back exit to the northbound side, which is meant for access by authorised vehicles only (as indicated by two no-entry signs with the aforementioned exception information underneath it),[8] from Pale Lane in order to avoid traffic queues from the motorway. Because of a loophole in legislation, in which the original purpose of the signs cannot be enforced as if it were part of a public highway, thereby only falling under trespassing, people that took the 'Fleet cheat' could not be prosecuted in the normal way for violating these signs. In the 2000s, bollards were installed to prevent unauthorised access, but these bollards often malfunctioned, so ANPR cameras were added in July 2010,[9] which then signalled the end of the 'Fleet cheat'.

Chapter 6 [Part I] of Joseph Rogers' short biographical Running. Nothing. Something. details walking the Fleet cheat to nearby Elvetham Heath.[10]

Scott Mills Bridge[edit]

The Scott Mills Bridge plaque

The Scott Mills Bridge was officially named on 16 March 2016. The naming followed a campaign by the Scott Mills Show's co-presenter Chris Stark to get things named after the BBC Radio 1 presenter. A plaque was unveiled at the site by Stark.[11][12]

2016 fire[edit]

A large fire broke out, caused by a faulty coffee machine in KFC on the evening of 14 December 2016, damaging at least 60% of the building but not resulting in any human injuries. The southbound carriageway of the M3 was closed and more than 100 firefighters attended from Hampshire and Surrey.[13][14] A customer on site at the time the fire broke out said it appeared to have started in a coffee machine and that staff reacted slowly.[15]


The eastbound side in Hartley Wintney, and the westbound side is in Elvetham Heath. The parish boundary is the central reservation of the M3.

A temporary building opened on 23 March 2017 to serve as the southbound services whilst the fire damaged building was demolished and rebuilt. The rebuilt services building[16] opened on 6 September 2018 and included Burger King, KFC, Pizza Express, Tossed, Harry Ramsdens, WHSmith and Little Waitrose. Additionally a number of Tesla and Ecotricity charging stations are being installed in the car parking area. Tossed and Harry Ramsdens were removed in 2020 and were replaced by Chopstix Noodle Bar and The Good Breakfast.


  1. ^ Reading Evening Post Friday 14 January 1972, page 14
  2. ^ Reading Evening Post Wednesday 29 March 1972, page 22
  3. ^ Esher News Thursday 14 June 1973, page 19
  4. ^ Motorway Services Trivia - Chronology Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine - Accessed 16 February 2009
  5. ^ "Loo of the Year Awards: Previous Winners". Loo of the Year Awards. Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2007.
  6. ^ Staff, Generation95 (31 December 2020). "Why Did the McDonald's at Fleet Services Close?". Generation95. Retrieved 7 January 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Fleet services - Motorway Services Online".
  8. ^ "The no-entry signs by the 'Fleet cheat' on Google Street View".
  9. ^ "Elvetham Heath & Fleet Forum - Police on Service Roads, page 4". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  10. ^ Rogers, Joseph (28 December 2013). Running. Nothing. Something. Joseph Rogers.
  11. ^ "Radio 1's Scott Mills Bridge officially opened at Fleet". Welcome Break. 24 March 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  12. ^ Lloyd, Stephen (18 March 2016). "Scott Mills 'couldn't be happier' after Fleet M3 footbridge is named after him". getSurrey. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Fleet service station fire shuts part of M3". BBC. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Fire – M3 Fleet Services". Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Fleet M3 service station fire: Customer says damage was preventable". BBC. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  16. ^ "New motorway services opens after fire". BBC News. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Motorway service stations on the
M3 motorway