Magic Roundabout (Hemel Hempstead)

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Magic Roundabout
Plough Roundabout
Plough roundabout sign.jpg
Sign approaching the Roundabout from the south on the A414 showing the official name
Hemel Hempstead, England
Coordinates51°44′46″N 00°28′23″W / 51.74611°N 0.47306°W / 51.74611; -0.47306Coordinates: 51°44′46″N 00°28′23″W / 51.74611°N 0.47306°W / 51.74611; -0.47306
Roads at
  • UK road A414.svg A414 (Two Waters Road / St Albans Road)
  • UK road A4146.svg A4146 (Station Road / Leighton Buzzard Road)
  • Lawn Lane
  • Selden Hill

"The Magic Roundabout" (also known as "the Benzene") in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, is the familiar name given to the Plough roundabout. The familiar name comes from the children's television programme, and is also used for a similar junction in Swindon and the M40 junction in Denham. The official name relates to a former public house, called The Plough Inn, which was between the junction of what is now Selden Hill and St Albans Road. It has also been known as the Moor End Roundabout as it is adjacent to the part of Boxmoor nearest the town. Before Hemel Hempstead became a New Town the roads met in a simple junction which was then replaced by a standard roundabout.


The Magic Roundabout as photographed in 1971
Magic Roundabout, looking south with mini roundabouts 1 (nearest), 2 and 3 in view. The grassy bank at the centre of the picture is part of the central hub roundabout. Taken from part of the 'Riverside' development

Constructed in 1973, the "Magic Roundabout" in Hemel Hempstead was voted the UK's second-worst roundabout in a 2005 poll held by an insurance company (the winner being its Swindon counterpart).[1]

In 2011 the roundabout was voted the best in Britain by motorists in a competition organised by a car leasing service.[2]

The roundabout is unusual in that traffic flows both clockwise (the standard flow direction of British roundabouts) and anticlockwise. Drivers approaching the roundabout from any junction can choose to turn left or right, and they are free to make U-turns using any of the mini roundabouts at the junction. Effectively, the junction should be treated as six individual roundabouts - right of way must be given on the approach of each new mini roundabout.

Line drawing of the roundabout in its first configuration. The road labelled '2' is the dual-carriageway St Albans Road and provides the main access to Hemel from the M1 motorway.

Early history[edit]

The original magic roundabout had six exits in total, with the British Petroleum building spanning "Marlowes", the road leading to the town centre, in the approximate position of the earlier railway viaduct. The BP building was found to be unstable due to defective reinforced concrete and the exit had to be closed. The building was demolished but the original route was not restored, although a newer side exit from the roundabout replaced the junction with Marlowes off a side road.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Other similar roundabouts[edit]


External links[edit]