Road King, New Hollies Transport Cafe (formerly known as The Hollies) is situated on the A5 Watling Street, between Birmingham and Staffordshire in the West Midlands. It’s very well established, and has a strong claim on being the oldest truck stop in the country.
Records date back to the 1930s, when it first opened as a tea room. During the 1940s and 1950s bed and breakfast facilities were added, and thanks to a large extension on the side of the building, it was known as “The Glasshouse”. In 1950, American actor Gregory Peck – at the time one of Hollywood’s most popular stars – dined there. In later years, entertainers as diverse as Tom Jones and Bernard Manning also visited the stop.
In 1959, the business was bought by Derek Curtis, a trucker, who both lived there and used the surrounding land as parking for his transport company vehicles. As he was so often on the road, he persuaded his wife, Margaret, to give up hairdressing and run the business with him – something they did over the next four decades. Derek sadly died in 1999, and Margaret sold the business in 2007.
It was around 1965 that the truck stop became known as The Hollies – although it also acquired another name. In the late 1960s a memorable young lady, Lilly, started work in the cafe. She was fond of make-up, but the heat had a bad effect on it – it became shiny and her face looked greasy. As a result, The Hollies acquired the nickname “Greasy Lil’s”, and it is still occasionally referred to as that.
In 2002, The Hollies was named ‘Truck Stop of the Year’ by Truck and Driver magazine. A major refurbishment was undertaken between 2011–2013, and the business was rebranded as Road King.
Today, parking is available for all kinds of vehicle, but Road King is best known as a truck stop. There is space for all types of HGV, including abnormal and heavy loads, and even an area dedicated to refrigerated trailer parking. The parking area is highly secure, with a perimeter fence, CCTV, and security personnel on patrol.
Road King is open from 6am Sunday until 8pm Saturday. Facilities include a licensed cafe, coin-operated launderette, travel shop, overnight accommodation, and showers and washing facilities. The cafe offers a full and diverse menu – including the famous Road King “Mega Breakfast” – and also has TV, free Wi-Fi, games, and a licensed bar. There’s also a separate drivers’ TV lounge.
Reviews from customers are consistently positive, with the quality of the food and the friendliness of the staff being singled out for particular praise.
If you’ve visited The Hollies / Road King truck stop and would like to share your experience, or perhaps you have a good story involving “Greasy Lil’s” – please share it with us in the comments below.