Magic Roundabout

Stemming from a brief mention on twitter of it during the week, I thought it only fair to feature one of the craziest and most amazing road junctions I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving around: Swindon’s Magic Roundabout.

In truth, Swindon is a bit of a hole – the only thing really worth popping down the A420 (careful now) from Oxford for is when Sheffield United are playing at the County Ground. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you may well find yourself driving the Magic Roundabout:

The Magic Roundabout is an example of a counterflow roundabout, according to, who even describe a “pro” and “tourist” route around the junction.

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 roundabout, built in 1972, 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.

It’s actually nowhere near as scary as it looks and the amazing thing is that it actually works really well, as long as people obey the rules of the road. That said, T-shirts with an “I survived the Magic Roundabout” logo on them are available via for tourists who manage to make it through unscathed.

We’re heading back to Cape Town this afternoon, fortunately avoiding Swindon, but sadly still having to endure the misery of Somerset West.

10 thoughts on “Magic Roundabout

  1. Where were you whenthey tried RRL tried the same thing in University Square S10? They started by removing the existing roundabout and tarmacing the whole area. They then constructed a series of 5 mini roundabouts out of lorry tyres. They had observers and cameras placed on an old bus nearby. Each day for the next 2weeks they changed the layout. They also had several breakdown trucks available! After that they studied their data. Conclusion, just have one smaller roundabout and 4 lanes round it. Later they put the tram tunnel under it. A guy from the IOM who has been round it commented it was the only roundabout he knew with traffic jams on it.

  2. This is my worst nightmare come true. I have heard fables about this roundabout. Another good reason to never ever go to Swindon.

  3. bloubergman > Hertfordshire? Eww. Mind you, yours has a river too. Nice touch.

    D > Better than the IoM where they only put roundabouts in for a few hours and then change their minds.

    Po > It really isn’t so bad. Lots of fun. Like dodgems. But with no-claims bonus implications.

  4. oh gosh! That would never work here. People here have trouble figuring out who has right of way at a 4 way stop could you imagine….. Infact just this morning some idiot was going our one of our few few traffic circle – the wrong way!!!

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