Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Magic Roundabout

This is when it first came into operation as a two-way roundabout. 1973.
Mini roundabouts were made of tyres and the road lines made of pieces of plastic strung together.
The River Gade runs through the middle of the roundabout in the middle of Hemel Hempstead.


Before the roundabout was in the form it was above, so much traffic used to be jammed up and it was often at a standstill.

Dacorum Borough Council had tried a solution of a system of spirals painted onto the road, but it never worked very well. Drivers were supposed to go into the roundabout, clockwise, and get into a lane that would spiral the vehicle off at the junction they wanted to get out of, but it was too confusing.

Officially called the Plough roundabout, named after a pub that used to be nearby.

As an attraction children especially seem keen for their parents to drive around and around it, as it looks fun!

Simple to use, the driver just figures out where they need to get to, and treats each mini roundabout as it is and go which ever direction best suits.

At first, the layout was done overnight and drivers were faced with driving round it one way, then the next day they had to go in the opposite direction until it was fully open. On the day it opened, queues were said to have gone all the way back to Bedchamber as motorists tried to figure out what to do.

The original magic roundabout had six exits in total, Marlowes, St. Albans Rd, Lawn Lane, Two Waters Road, A4146, Leighton Buzzard Road. The roundabout was surrounded by the BP Marketing Ltd building that spanned Marlowes, Robert McAlpine, Shell petrol station, and Kodak building.

A lorry once came down the hill, lost it's brakes and went into the river. An escape bay made of gravel was then installed next to the dual carriageway hill approach.

Sue Beecham "I used to work for BP as a chef, my work table overlooked this, loved my huge window. I remember a lorry spilling loads of small blue plastic barrels everywhere. The roundabout came to a standstill so people got out of their cars to help move them. Consequently I didn't get much work done that morning!"

Alan Winter "I used to work at SMBP overlooking the magic roundabout. Early one Sunday morning, just after implementation of this 2 way scheme there was a head on collision near the Marlowes junction. Remarkable since there was barely any other traffic on the road!"

Daniel Thomas Parkhouse "I love it, it's great. I remember when I had an old Ford Escort, coming down the duel carriageway, the brake master cylinder went and no brakes at 40mph onto the roundabout. I got lucky and coasted round to Leighton Buzzard Road.

Mick Jackson "It cut down the morning traffic jams trying to get to Maylands Ave factories etc.& home again after work, brilliant idea !!!!"


The Roundabout was featured in the 1990s sitcom starring Wendy Craig, "And Mother Makes Five" - In Series 1 - Episode 3, 5 minutes into the video, she is seen driving around and around being confused before finally crashing into another vehicle..