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Roundabouts are a serious business if you’re a member of the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society, an avid reader of Roundabouts Of Great Britain, or if the New Year just doesn’t feel right without a "Roundabouts of Morecambe" or "Roundabouts of Basingstoke" calendar. Roundabouts aren’t unique to England, but with around 10,000 of them in the UK, we do seem to have adopted them as a nation.

The first recognisable modern roundabout – New York’s Columbus Circle - came into being in 1905. Five years later, Letchworth in England got one and we haven’t looked back. In the mid-1970s, the first mini-roundabout – a painted circle in the middle of the road, rather than a full-scale grassed version – made its national debut.

Today, you can find them, in mini or maxi versions, the length and breadth of the country. You can sponsor them or advertise on them, and some of them even boast sculptures. For roundabout aficionados, there’s nothing to beat Swindon’s affectionately named "Magic Roundabout", a gorgeous combination of one large roundabout and five minis – the full roundabout experience.

Photo: Alex Masters


Your comments

They seem to be a uniquely English thing - other people are copying them but it is something I really notice when I come back to England. I was born in Ireland and have lived in New York and California most of my life, but I have fond memories of training as a nurse in London some years ago.

Anne Fitch-Dececchi

They are not typically english. Drive in France and you'll find plenty of fine examples of the form, along with their offspring, the mini-roundabout. One of my prsonal favourites is at the Porte d'Angleterre on the Caen 'rocade'.. Maybe they seem typically english just because America doesn't use them much.

England's roundabouts are simply amazing! Our small town in Michigan (USA) just had our first roundabout installed. I had never driven on one before, but after watching enough TV, I've got the gist. Our roundabout is not completely open yet--probably trying to enure us to this new hazard; please pray for us as we go on to open the other two roads that feed it! I understand the way the roundabout works, and in America, of course, everything's backwards. Just the other day, a woman in front of me turned left going into the roundabout (that's not the way it works here) so I just waited until she was out of sight and went through the legal way. Thank you for your website. This is wonderful. Wendi

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I nominate the English weather.