Original owner: Top Rank
Current Owner: Moto
Name: Became Severn View in 1991
Now no longer on the M4, since the M4 is diverted over the second Severn Bridge, opened in 1996. This stretch of Motorway is now the M48.
For many, a favored stop off on the M4 because of the view it once offered
The diversion of the M4 led to a decline in the MSA’s customers. It was expected that the site would close, and in advance of this, the main building which offered splendid views of the bridge and the River Severn, was closed and sold off to become offices of a technology company. The services remained open in a building adjacent to the petrol station, but it was expected that this would close. However, the custom did not fall off as much as expected, so the services remain open, even though they have been removed off certain road maps.
The original building was purchased from Granada in late 2000, and sold to Motion Media. They had planning permission to alter the buildings to suit their needs, and moved there from various sites around Bristol in Summer 2001
The Severn Bridge opened in 1966, replacing a ferry service at the site. The ruins of the ferry terminal are still visible at beach level. The tidal waters here are treacherous, making a crossing here a impossibility for many years.
In 1995, The lead guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers, Ritchie James, went missing. The last trace of him was his L reg Cavalier, which he left in the service area car park. He has never been found, but there is speculation that might have jumped from the bridge. This was just before the Manic Street Preachers acheived huge commercial success, and its a great shame that such a great talent is lost.
A 1978 Government report names Aust as having the largest public cafeteria of all MSA’s. In those days however the transport and public cafe’s were generally separate and the MSA in ’78 with the largest combined seating capacity was Toddington
M4 Aust 1974 (photo by Michael Evans)
The smaller Severn View Services, is very small and compact. Has a shop, loo, cash machine (handy for bridge tolls) and BK, and not enough room to swing a cat. The clientele were not too friendly when I visited (a boozed up coach having a stop) the best thing about Severn View remains the view, but you now have to do some walking.
There is a view point, not signed, and could technically be out-of bounds since the technology company owns the land now and the sign on the road says PRIVATE. However, there is a footpath which is public, and for those who wish to walk either across or just onto the Severn Bridge itself, its a pleasant free walk!
From the Car Park, go around the back of the services building, past the petrol station, there is a gap in the hedge and a footpath sign. Go though here, and you will find yourself walking on a public footpath which crosses over the top of the Toll Booths (an odd experience in itself!) Once you are across the motorway, turn right and you are shortly beside the motorway at the start of the Severn Bridge. (possibly the only place in the UK where you can legally walk beside a motorway!)
Just getting to the bridge is enough for a view, but you can walk, across for free, or mountain bike across. The services have a 2 hour limit on parking, but it tends not to be checked. However thats plenty for a walk for the view, or to bike across.
From the roof of the Toll Plaza
Footpath beside the M48 on the Severn Bridge
James (aka Robin Cook)