This iconic building on the A1 started life as one of the roadhouses of the ‘Knights on the Road’ chain in 1932. This company’s ambitious plans to have a Knight facility every 50 miles on main routes floundered a couple of years later, and the Wansford site became the New Mermaid Inn in 1936.
In the late 1970s, Forte, along with many other transport cafes and roadside inns, bought the New Mermaid Inn and replaced it with a Little Chef restaurant as part of their plans to expand the chain rapidly across the UK. In order to save money and time, Forte decided to house the new Little Chef inside of the original New Mermaid Inn building . After all, the building was still In decent shape so there was no need for a new building to be built.
Sadly, in 2007, Little Chefs parents, who by now were People's Restaurant Group, hit financial problems and the brand was taken by new owners, venture capitalists R Capital. Not all the sites transferred over and Wansford was one of the 41 to be closed in 2007.
Since the closure of the Little Chef, the building has become covered with graffiti. There were numerous plans in the past to redevelop the iconic building but they didn't get very far. Also, plans to make the building listed have also been scrapped because Little Chef changed the design of the windows.
Happily on 26th September 2014, the old Little Chef building was bought by an office company who are planning to turn the building into offices.