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The Magic Roundabout 

Swindon's major mini-marvel
 
Until September 1972, there was only one Magic Roundabout and it was a children's television programme featuring Dougal the dog, a hippy rabbit called Dylan and the spring-loaded Zebedee.

Then a revolutionary idea (in more ways than one) which had been tested in Colchester, Essex, was also tested on Swindon's County Ground Roundabout. Until then the area had been a motorist's nightmare which routinely failed to handle the volume of traffic which converged on it from five directions.
 
The Magic Roundabout Swindon
It's what we're famous for:
the world's ultimate traffic control system
- Swindon's Magic Roundabout

The new roundabout (see picture above was the work of the Road Research Laboratory (RRL) and their solution was brilliantly simple.
 
All they did was combine two roundabouts in one - the first the conventional, clockwise variety and the second, which revolved inside the first, sending traffic anti-clockwise.
 
Magic Roundabout sign
Which way to go?:
a sight that's struck terror
into visiting motorists since 1972

PC Steve Dudley, one of the police officers involved with the introduction of the new system, recalled: "There was someone from the RRL up on a crane and officers on each of the five junctions. We would let the traffic build up and then let one lot go at a time. After a few trial runs we let the whole lot go at once. It was quite nerve-racking, but it did work."

They called it a multi-mini roundabout, but as far as Swindon folk was concerned, they now had their very own Magic Roundabout.
 
The Magic Roundabout Swindon - view from the main Swindon Fire Station

And magic it certainly is. Though it may confuse or amuse new visitors and baffle American tourists, the average Swindonian finds that his or her passage through one of the town's busiest junctions is actually quite fluid, even at peak times. Twenty-five years on, the Magic Roundabout still works, despite ever-increasing volumes of traffic.

Though there have been 14 serious accidents and just over a hundred lesser ones recorded in 25 years, that rate is less than one would expect for such a busy junction.
 
Most accidents have involved cyclists and motorcyclists and now a cycle lane running right round the outside of the roundabout, with pelican crossings, should ensure that the Magic Roundabout becomes as safe as it is efficient.

And we love to drive the SwindonWeb Minis around it!
 
SwindonWeb Minis on the Magic Roundabout
We love it!:
our SwindonWeb Minis enjoying a drive on
the Magic Roundabout

It has also inspired a pop song - English Roundabout by Swindon's world-famous band, XTC - and the only real controversy has been over its name.
 
For years, stuffy Wiltshire County Councillors at Trowbridge insisted on calling it County Islands.

But Swindon folk recognised the magic when they saw it.
 
On TV

DIY SOS on the Magic Roundabout
Magic makeover:
when BBC television programme DIY SOS visited
Swindon to do a makeover in November 2006, they,
of course, visited the Magic Roundabout - and
featured one of our marvellous T-shirts!
DIY SOS on the Magic Roundabout

And now....

It's been confusing and amusing us for over 30 years. And they say that any driver who successfully navigates it deserves a medal.

So in celebration of the world's most famous roundabout, we've come up with the perfect item for anyone who has managed to get from one side to the other in one piece.
 
You've seen it....

You've driven it....

Now get the T-shirt!

The official 'I survived the Magic Roundabout T-shirt'.

Made from the finest cotton, and available in three different colours, white, blue and grey, plus four different sizes, it's available to buy from this site via the link below.
 
Wear it with pride!
 

Front

Back

White Front White Back
Grey Front Grey Back
Blue Front Blue Back
Detail Front Detail Back
Colour Size

PLEASE NOTE: DELIVERY OF THESE
ITEMS CAN TAKE UP TO 28 DAYS
Magic Roundabout Tshirts - 17/04/2008
Tim Westwood
Natasha Bedingfield
Olympic archer Alison Williamson
Boris Johnson
David Cameron
Dom Joly
Simon Webbe
DJ Spoony
Tito Jackson
Noel Edmonds
STFC's Billy Paynter, Peter Brezovan and Anthony McNamee
Jamie Cox
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