Magic Roundabout (Swindon)
Sign approaching the Magic Roundabout from the south on the B4289
| A4259 road (County Road / Queens Drive)
The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England was constructed in 1972 and consists of five mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anti-clockwise roundabout. It is located near the County Ground, home of Swindon Town F.C. Its name comes from the popular children's television series The Magic Roundabout. In 2009 it was voted the fourth scariest junction in Britain, in a poll by Britannia Rescue.
The roundabout was constructed according to the design of Frank Blackmore, of the British Transport and Road Research Laboratory, under the control of Highways engineer Jeff Maycock of Swindon Council. Traffic flow around the smaller, inner roundabout is counter-clockwise, and traffic flows in the usual clockwise manner around the five mini-roundabouts and the outer loop.
Local and regular users are proficient at traversing the complex junction, which offers multiple paths between feeder roads. Virtually the same overall configuration has been in place for 40 years.
When the roundabout complex was first opened, the mini-roundabouts were not permanently marked out and could be reconfigured while the layout was fine tuned. A police officer was stationed at each mini roundabout during this pilot phase to oversee how drivers coped with the unique arrangement.
The roundabout is built over a section of the old Wilts and Berks Canal - Swindon wharf. A narrow, stone bridge built c. 1810, which is a grade II listed building, carried the old Saxon way known as Drove Road over the canal half a mile east of the town centre. Its site became covered by Drove Roundabout, which was later redeveloped as the Magic Roundabout. A wharf occupied one edge and the area was known as The Marsh. The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust are currently in negotiations with Swindon Council to include in the New Swindon Regeneration Framework plans to restore the canal through the town centre. The restoration would utilise the route of the North Wilts Canal and not the main West Vale route that the Magic Roundabout sits over. The North Wilts Canal was a separate branch which exited the town northwards through Moredon.
A calendar is produced each year by the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society depicting the town's finest examples.
The official name of the roundabout used to be County Islands, but it was changed in the late 1980s to match its popular name. It inspired the song "English Roundabout", a pop song by the Swindon band XTC, which was recorded for their 1982 album English Settlement.
In 2005, it was voted the worst roundabout in a survey by a UK insurance company. In September 2007, the Magic Roundabout was named as one of the World's Worst Junctions by a UK motoring magazine. In December 2007, BBC News reported a survey identifying The Magic Roundabout as one of the "10 Scariest Junctions in the United Kingdom". However the roundabout provides a better throughput of traffic than other designs and has an excellent safety record, since traffic moves too slowly to do serious damage in the event of a collision.
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See also 
- "Britain's scariest roads revealed". BBC News. 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "Frank Blackmore: traffic engineer and inventor of the mini-roundabout". The Times (London). 2008-06-14. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
- "Canal Bridge, 300m north-east of the County, or Magic Roundabout". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- Brits vote on the best and worst roundabouts, 20 December 2005, retrieved 2008-01-18
- Worst 10 Junctions in the World
- 10 Scariest Junctions in the UK
- "In Depth: The Magic Roundabout". CBRD. 2005-11-22. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- The Magic Roundabout at CBRD (Chris's British Road Directory)
- BBC Wiltshire Video: 1972 Points
- Magic Roundabout Show Web Site For The TV Show Magic Roundabout
- BBC Wiltshire History of the Magic Roundabout
- Driving over the Magic Roundabout video on YouTube
- Magic Roundabout, Swindon Web
- The Magic Roundabout at Swindon
- GPS Drawing tour around Magic Roundabout
- Google Maps satellite image view