swindonweb®  home    make this my homepage
myswindonweb   LOGIN / REGISTER  

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.

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

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
Get My Drift?!
Get My Drift?! Mad Mike Whiddett takes on the Magic Roundabout like you've never seen it before - WATCH VIDEO
More21 July 2016
Magic Wheels Of Pressed Steel
Magic Wheels Of Pressed Steel Classic cars "Made in Swindon" parade on the Magic Roundabout! GALLERY & VIDEO
More09 July 2016
Not The Brightest Spark!
Not The Brightest Spark! Oh not again! Wootton Bassett Road re-opens after another lorry falls victim to Swindon's famous railway bridge - SEE PICS
More10 February 2015
Neigh! Neigh! Not Again!
Neigh! Neigh! Not Again! Driver has a Mare as horsebox gets stuck under Swindon's most battered bridge - PHOTOS
More28 February 2014
Baby On Board!
Baby On Board! This top toddler has got his 'I Survived The Magic Roundabout' T-shirt, has yours?! NOW ON SALE AT SWINDON LIBRARY
More19 December 2013
Here We Go Again!
Here We Go Again! Wootton Bassett Road closed as yet ANOTHER lorry hits the bridge - SEE PICTURES - ROAD NOW OPEN
More22 January 2013
Hi Dad, About The Car...
Hi Dad, About The Car... Festive nightmare for young driver as BMW goes up in flames - SEE PICTURES
More14 December 2012
40 Years Of Magic!
40 Years Of Magic! Swindon's world famous roundabout is 40 years old this month - TELL US YOUR MEMORIES
More12 September 2012
Senses Working Overtime
Senses Working Overtime 40 years on from their biggest single & album, we celebrate Swindon's greatest-ever band, XTC - WATCH VIDEOS
Not again!
Not again! Wootton Bassett road closed after lorry strikes railway bridge...
More09 December 2011
GWR Flower Display
GWR Flower Display Roundabout message for train travellers and motorists - visit STEAM this summer...
More19 July 2011
Hi boss. Are you sitting down?....
Hi boss. Are you sitting down?.... .... this isn't an April Fool! Lorry driver lucky to escape with minor injuries after bridge blow...
More01 April 2011
Magic memorial for Don Rogers
Magic memorial for Don Rogers Were you April fooled?...
More01 April 2009
Cultural Roundabout
Cultural Roundabout New initiative focuses on the positives in Swindon...
MoreTV23 December 2008
Tree-mendous! Festive first on the Swindon magic roundabout...
MoreTV11 December 2008
Pantomime on the Magic Roundabout
Pantomime on the Magic Roundabout Motorists crease up at Christmas tree cock-up...
MoreTV08 December 2008
The joy of getting lost on the Magic Roundabout
The joy of getting lost on the Magic Roundabout GQ editor takes a shine to Swindon...
More04 February 2008
Absolute Skips - skip hire in Swindon
The Burj
Barnes Coaches Advert
Chelworth Windows and Conservatories, Swindon, Wiltshire