Thurrock services
Thurrock services is located in Essex
Thurrock services
Thurrock services
Location within Essex
RoadM25, A282
Coordinates:51°29′32″N 0°16′20″E / 51.49222°N 0.27222°E / 51.49222; 0.27222
OperatorMoto Hospitality
Date opened1990[1]

Thurrock services is a motorway service station in Thurrock, Essex, serving the M25 motorway, and the Dartford Crossing (A282). It was planned in the mid-1980s and opened after the M25 was completed. Originally popular, the services have gradually deteriorated and have attracted criticism for poor facilities. They have also been a magnet for drug trafficking and other criminal activities.


The service area, owned by Moto, is accessible from junction 30 and 31 of the M25 motorway. Amenities include a Travelodge hotel. The main entrance leads onto a first floor concourse containing shops and food services. The toilets are located on the ground floor.[2]

Part of the service station overlooks a lake, which was constructed from a former gravel pit.[2]


The site was offered for sale by the landowner to Granada (now Moto Hospitality) in 1976.[3] The area was used for heavy industry and included several pylons, gasometers and industrial sheds.[4] The land had been used for landfill waste, leading to concerns about a build up of methane underneath any development.[5] The sale did not go ahead, but in 1986 the Department of Transport announced that bids would be considered for a 40-acre (16 ha) site next to M25 junction 31.[3] Granada announced the following year they intended to build the services, but Esso won the construction contract.[6] Work began in 1988, but was delayed by an objection to the building design from the local planning authority. The services opened in 1990.[1]


The services were popular when opened, and did not attract attention,[4][7] but gradually deteriorated and were criticised. In 2018, a Transport Focus survey of 9,600 motorway service users ranked Thurrock as the worst service area in England, with only 68% reporting a satisfactory experience.[2][8] Problems included a lack of working toilet facilities, queues for showers, no air conditioning and food not kept properly refrigerated.[2][9] Thurrock was found to be the most improved motorway service area in the 2019 edition of the survey.[10]


The services have been used as an exchange point for illegal drug dealing. A representative from HM Customs and Excise said its location next to a major motorway providing access to cross-channel ports and the rest of the UK made it an ideal meeting point for traffickers.[11]

In 1998, 40 kilograms (88 lb) of heroin was recovered from a van trying to breach a police cordon at the premises.[12] In 2001, heroin valued at £8m was seized following an armed police operation.[11] Two years later, a five-man trafficking team was captured on closed-circuit television; they were subsequently arrested and imprisoned for attempting to distribute £2.6m worth of cocaine.[13] In 2010, a sting operation resulted in several arrests for theft, possession of drugs, carrying offensive weapons and driving without tax and insurance and 32 vehicles were impounded.[14]


  1. ^ a b Bottomley, Peter (9 June 1989). "Motorway Service Areas (M25)". Hansard. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Marsh, Sarah (27 July 2018). "'It's a dump': why Thurrock was voted England's worst services". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "History of Thurrock services". Motorway Services Online. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b Yarrow, Stella (23 July 1995). "Palatable Pit Stop". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Thurrock Service Area". Hansard. 1 November 1993. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  6. ^ "M25 (Service Areas)". Hansard. 12 January 1987. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Where it's wiser to drive on". The Times. 1 August 1991. p. 5. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  8. ^ "England's best and worst motorway services revealed". Auto Express. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  9. ^ "We spent a day at Thurrock services dubbed the worst in the UK and here's what happened". Essex Live. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  10. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (1 August 2019). "Severn Bridge services named as worst on England's motorways". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Heroin seized at motorway services". BBC News. 30 August 2001. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  12. ^ "£7.5m heroin found in van". The Independent. 23 February 1998. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Spanish and Colombian drugs gang jailed". HMRC. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Police sting at M25 Thurrock services nets 11 arrests". BBC News. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2019.