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Published 19/05/2015 | 14:46

Gloucester Services fishmonger Francis Phillips is Britain's first motorway fishmonger
Gloucester Services fishmonger Francis Phillips is Britain's first motorway fishmonger
Drivers on the M5 fancying a fish meal will be able to mullet over on the way home

Britain's first motorway fishmonger has opened on the M5 today - allowing drivers to pick up fish to go at the roadside.

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The fishmonger is joined by a farm shop, old-fashioned butchers, patisserie and chocolatier at Gloucester Services southbound.

It only stocks fish that have been sustainably caught in UK waters off small scale British fishing boats landed in Newlyn, Cornwall.

Customers are provided with ice and cool bags to ensure their fishy purchases are kept fresh until the end of their journey.

Francis Phillips, 67, has been tempted out of retirement to head up the wet fish counter after running a mobile fish van The Cornish Catch.

"I wanted to be the world's first motorway fishmonger, as I feel there's a real scope to revive the art and reinvent the fish counter," Mr Phillips said.

"Lots of generations of shoppers don't know or appreciate native species like Cornish sardines, ling or pollack.

"There's a genuine opportunity to re-educate the public to cook and enjoy fish from British waters."

Mr Phillips is also responsible for training up new fishmongers at the service station to pass on the art of fishmongery to a new generation.

"I left school at 15 and worked with my father in our family grocery store which my grandfather founded in 1935, before becoming a fishmonger," he added.

"In that era service to the customer was everything. Fishmonger is a skilled trade and one that is in my blood.

"I like the close links with suppliers, respect the hard graft of the fishermen and I feel like I'm passing on my skills and experience to a new generation of both shoppers and fishmongers, it's an exciting prospect."

In May last year, the northbound services was the first in the £40 million project to open and quickly proved popular with travellers.

Locally produced food flies off the shelves in the farm shop, while homemade meals made with locally sourced produce are served in the cafe each day.

The services have pledged to ban chains, franchises and fast food - instead placing an emphasis on farming and community.

More than 130 suppliers are within 30 miles of the services, with a further 70 producers from across the south west.

The services, between junctions 11a and 12, is partnered with a Gloucester charity which will receive a proportion of annual turnover for community projects.

Sarah Dunning, chief executive of the Westmorland Family, which owns and operates the services as well as Tebay on the M6, said: "The butchery has become a real driver for our businesses and I know we raised a few eyebrows when we pioneered that concept.

"Reviving the format of a traditional fishmonger is a natural progression of this thinking, updating old fashioned grocery concepts of service, quality and knowledge to a new audience. Why shouldn't you be able to pick up fresh fish caught in British waters on your way home from work or on your way to a holiday cottage?"

Since opening in May 2014, the northbound services have sold more than 500,000 locally sourced meals made by local people.

Both northbound and southbound services include a tourist information station to raise awareness of what the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire and Forest of Dean offer.

The buildings are designed to blend in with the landscape, with the roof of the main building and main petrol filling station covered with grass.

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