10 things to celebrate about Swindon. No 8: The Magic Roundabout

aerial view of a traffic roundabout system

Postcard of Magic Roundabout

Yes! The Magic Roundabout.  It’s a bit like Marmite. But whether you love it, hate it or are indifferent to it you certainly can’t ignore it.  I’m not a driver myself so have no idea what sort of roundabout it is but according to ’roundabout.net’ it’s a counterflow roundabout:

‘There are five or six of these colossal contraptions in Britain. They are called counterflow roundabouts because traffic in the Inner Circle circulates counter-clockwise while the Outer Circle goes conventionally clockwise. This one at Swindon, way west of London, was the first. It is named for a chidren’s TV programme which used a roundabout as a time machine …The amazing thing is that if you obey the dashed white GIVE WAY lines (Yield Points), it works, beautifully!’

A quick rootle round Google will bring up all manner of information about this traffic system but our very own Swindon Web has a niece piece about it: ‘Until September 1972, there was only one Magic Roundabout and it was a children’s television programme featuring Dougal the dog, a hippy rabbit called Dylan and the spring-loaded Zebedee….’  That was certainly my knowledge and understanding of that term until I moved to Swindon.

The roundabout is now rather famous/notorious – delete as applicable – it even gets a pictorial mention on The Huffington Post in a feature on quirky roads.  It’s certainly celebrated here in Swindon – at the town’s tourist information centre  all manner of Magic Roundabout souvenirs are available from T-Shirts to tea towels. The picture in this post is a lovely aerial shot of it on a postcard purchased there.

It even inspired the song ‘English Roundabout’ by Swindon band XTC.

So who needs Thorpe Park and Alton Towers when here’s our very own white-knuckle ride!  🙂

See also: Swindon’s magic roundabout – Swindon viewpoint.  and my post on an imagined guide book entry for the beast.

#swindon #wiltshire  #swindonblog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #swindonian #magicroundabout #xtc #swindon #extrememotoring #contraflowroundabout


  1. Wow! I have heard speak of this roundabout, and may have even driven through it as a passenger (I have some vague recollection of the driver’s sudden furious outburst), but never before have I seen it in all its glory as this postcard depicts. 🙂

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  3. It does indeed, work beautifully and I always enjoy traveling across it; often taking a different route to access the same exit just because I can!

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