There is a group called Roundabout Appreciation Society. Yes, really! The Association has just voted the roundabout at Otford near Sevenoaks in Kent, with it’s duck pond in the middle, as Britain’s best roundabout. The pond dates back to Anglo Saxon times and was Grade II listed in 1975 after villagers protested at plans to concrete it over.
The world’s first roundabout appeared in Letchworth, Hertfordshire in 1909. Roundabouts have been described as ‘ the triumph of co-operation over confrontation’. Today, it is estimated that more than 60,000 have been built around the world.
It wasn’t until 1990 that a roundabout appeared in America. In the U.S. you turn right onto a roundabout whereas we go left (they do drive on the wrong side of the road though). Which is why the word for roundabout in Swahili,a language spoken in Britain’s former colonies in Africa, is ‘kipilefi‘ or ‘ keep left’.
Funny old world.