Plough Roundabout aka the 'Magic Roundabout'

A 'who dares wins' experience

By James King-Patarou

Plough Roundabout
Plough Roundabout

Originally one large roundabout, the Plough roundabout was redesigned to alleviate congestion problems. It was during this renovation that the Plough roundabout became the well-known, and somewhat well-loved, feature it is today. It now consists of the one large roundabout, surrounded by six mini-roundabouts (for each of the six original junctions) and actually entitles motorists to turn right at the roundabout.

Policemen to direct motorists

If finding yourself going anti-clockwise on a roundabout in Britain does not confuse you, nothing probably will. It caused so much confusion when it opened in 1973 that policemen had to be stationed at each of the mini-roundabouts to direct clueless motorists, who were no doubt shouting, crying and looking utterly confused. Described as a ‘who dares wins’ experience, the Plough roundabout pretty much renders all highway-code books obsolete.

This page was added on 03/11/2009.

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  • The photo by Alan Willmott of the Plough Junction (now the Magic Roundabout) includes the Triangle Cafe as mentioned in the Childhood Memories of Hemel Hempstead 1938-1949 By Wendy Godfrey on page:

    By George Storrow (15/08/2018)
  • the memory of one bright morning in 1973 will stay with me for the rest of my days – The day they opened the ‘Funny Roundabout’. I was a postman working out of Hemel Sorting Office in Waterhouse Street and on my way out to do an early morning collection, wondered why the traffic was at a standstil Managed to reach the Plough roundabout, only to find all entrances from the Marlowes right round to the Leighton Buzzard road, blocked by police cars In the grreen bit in the middle of the rouindabout was a zip-up tower manned by a guy with a whistle and a flag.. as I watched,stunned by the amount of traffic backed up on all the roads onto the roundabout. A whistle blew, a flag was waved and the police cars beat a hasty retreat and the traffic started to swarm. result – ABSOLUTE CHAOS. I can’t recall just how long it took to restore some kind of order, but when I got back to the Sorting Office some time later, the ‘Guvnor’ was become extremely anxious about his lack of staff. I wonder why?

    By Ted Gammon (11/05/2010)
  • Not altogether sure of the date, but I was a postman working out of Hemel Sorting Office. at 7.30 am on the day of the opening of the new roundabout. all entrances to the Plough roundabout were blocked by police cars in the middle of the roundabout, a zip- up tower manned by one solitary being with a flag and a whistle, At 7.45 the traffic was well and truly backed up in all roads leading onto the roundabout. At 8 am precisely the guy on the zip-up tower, blew his whistle, waved his flag, the police cars made a quick getaway – and then the fun started. I stayed and watched the antics of so many confused motorists for over half an hour, and couldn’t stop laughing.. when I got back to the Office, we were a few drivers adrift and the ‘Guvnor ‘ was getting anxious. – I wonder why?..

    By ted Gammon (10/05/2010)
  • You can always tell who are non-local drivers. They are sitting there with white knuckles and utterly bemused, whilst the locals zoom onto the roundabout and off again. It is a really successful design, even though Hemel – Apsley – Boxmoor is getting more clogged with traffic.

    By Ian Phipps (23/11/2009)