Roundabout showed way to the future

PUBLISHED: 11:06 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

The Sollershott Circus roundabout

The Sollershott Circus roundabout

OTHER towns have tried driving through their claims but now the debate is over, there s no more going around the houses. The Sollershott Circus roundabout in Letchworth GC is the oldest in the country. Exhaustive research has confirmed unequivocally that

OTHER towns have tried driving through their claims but now the debate is over, there's no more going around the houses.

The Sollershott Circus roundabout in Letchworth GC is the oldest in the country.

Exhaustive research has confirmed unequivocally that fact, according to Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.

And just to make sure that passing motorists know it, Hertfordshire Highways, which is responsible for the roundabout, and the Heritage Foundation have split the cost and installed signs announcing the fact.

The roundabout at the junction of Broadway, Sollershott East, Sollershott West and Spring Road was built about 1909. It was once the subject of a question on University Challenge.

A number of Comet readers responded to an item recently in our Town and Around column, written by Terry Gray, in which he invited people to write in if they thought that official signage to recognise the roundabout's unique history would be a suitable project to deliver.

Terry, who is the Foundation's public relations and media manager, said: "There was a good response to my column item, so I set about trying to bring it to reality with guidance from the First Garden City Heritage Museum.

"Hertfordshire Highways were very helpful and positive and agreed with the Foundation that it was important to officially recognise this particular part of the town's heritage. For some time now a number of Letchworthians have wanted signage put up at this roundabout."

Said county council executive member for transportation and environment Stuart Pile: "Roundabouts are so much part and parcel of everyday life on today's roads that many people won't have thought about their origins - but it's very gratifying to be able to say, officially, that the very first one happened to be in Hertfordshire, and in the world's first garden city."

* Original town planners Parker & Unwin's plan of the roundabout dates from 1908. Unwin referred to it as the Place d'Etoile, rather than Sollershott Circus.

* Over the last year or so there has been regional television and radio, as well as local newspaper coverage, on the subject and the roundabout was also featured in a recent book about roundabouts of the world.

* There was a letter published in The Citizen, a forerunner to The Comet, in which a town resident recalls the opening of the roundabout in 1909 when he was a young lad. The event was attended by a number of vehicles, including buses from Hitchin.

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