The former A1 Little Chef at Wansford now bears a new name ArcHaus

Refurbishment works are close to completion on the Northbound icon at Wansford. The former Little Chef, now bears a fresh, contemporary new title as the ArcHaus. The renovation boasts modern, naturally lit, open plan internal spaces with environmentally friendly power and heating methods whilst externally remaining sympathetic to the 1930s architectural essence.
Harris McCormack S3
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Anyone accustomed to the drive northbound on the arterial A1 will be familiar with the former abandoned restaurant building known most commonly as ‘the Little Chef building’ at Wansford. The property was empty since the fast food restaurant outed in 2007. The 1930’s Art Deco building has been the subject of a covert ‘inside out’ restoration project since it was acquired by us in 2013.

It originally opened in 1932 as the Wansford Knight, a roadhouse, that provided rooms and a restaurant for travellers. In 1936 the building changed hands and became The New Mermaid Inn to replace a building that was demolished to allow the widening of the road at the junction where the Old North Road meets Old Leicester Road. In the 1970s The New Mermaid Inn and a lot of other road side cafes and restaurants were bought out and rebranded as the Little Chef to expand the chain across the UK, The company chose not to replace the building, but to extend and refurbish the existing to make the building fit in with the standardised corporate design. The building remained as the Little chef until 2007 when the company changed hands and a revision of the locations excluded the Wansford site.

The original Bauhaus design of the building makes it an architectural rarity although subject to modernisation and an extension to the frontage, it forgoes listed building status. Images of the original building compared with recent ones demonstrate how relatively small changes to proportions and detailing can diminish the original architectural purity of the building.

In 2013 Harris McCormack Architects Ltd bought and started renovation works on the iconic plot and after much effort, time and patience in 2015 it opened its doors. The practice was originally based in a cosy ground floor office nestled in the heart of Stamford.

``Everybody said we were completely mad to buy it because there was water pouring through the roof and it was a real mess inside, but we could see past all that. That's what we do. We could see that it was a fantastic space and we fell in love with it.``

William McCormackHMA Ltd

  • 1932 - Knights of the Road Original year of construction
  • 1970 - Little Chef
  • 2016 - Rebranded and reopened as ArcHaus and Ducati
  • The last remaining example of 6 that were originally built on the A1
  • Solar panels
  • Biomass heating
  • Contemporary Pod meeting Room

``I now live in York but previously lived in Essex & on my travels north up the A1 over the years I have had cause to use the Little Chef and was very sad to watch the decline of such an iconic building in such a prominent location. It was with great delight that I happened to see the piece on Anglia TV news yesterday. I just had to contact you to say what a great job you have done and to congratulate everyone involved. The building deserves the care lavished on it. Long may you & it prosper.``

Mike

``Just wanted to say how pleased I was to see the building and to find out all about it. I have passed the derelict site so many times over the years travelling between Kent and Yorkshire and always thought it such a shame that it was left to rot. I am a huge art deco fan and it is truly wonderful to see the building back to it's former glory``.

Nancy.G

Good evening, I have just watched the article about your building, and got very excited as myself and my parents used to live there when it was the Mermaid. My parents ran the pub for a good few years, and must admit we had some very good times there. Thank you for giving me so many memories flooding back.

Elaine M.N.D

I just had to contact you to say what a great job you have done and to congratulate everyone involved. The building deserves the care lavished on it. Long may you & it prosper.

Mike.B

Harris McCormack Architects Ltd
ArcHaus, Peterborough Road,
Wansford PE8 6JN

architects@harrismccormack.co.uk 01780 433 334

Harris McCormack Architects Ltd. All rights reserved 2016.