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Opinion: There Is No Magic Now in the Guildford Rotunda

Published on: 15 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 1 Nov, 2013
The Guildford Rotunda or The Magic Roundabout, take your pick.

The Guildford Rotunda or The Magic Roundabout, take your pick.

By Martin Giles

As a reporter of council affairs, I thought I had better keep up by attending one of its ‘drop in events’ on the Local Plan.

Opinion Logo 2The first one scheduled for Guildford town was to be held, the list said, at the ‘rotunda’. Although I had been given a good clue that it was opposite the Friary centre I was still unsure.

“Where the devil is the rotunda?” I asked my wife.

“Perhaps they mean Jamie’s Restaurant,” she said. It was a reasonable suggestion, especially given the dictionary definition of a rotunda as “a building having a circular plan and a dome”.

“Hmm, well in that case I think I will go at lunch time.” I replied.

As it turned out, the rotunda is the ‘magic roundabout’,  at least that is how my family refers to the circular space at the North Street end of Friary Street. And, indeed it sometimes does have a children’s fairground carousel on it.

But now I am wondering whether we are alone in Guildford in not knowing the official name, if it is official, and why ‘rotunda’ when it is not really correct.

By the way, although the event was not held in Jamie’s, members of staff there were kind enough to supply soup and other refreshments for the event. Good for them.

Thinking back, I can just about remember sitting in my grandfather’s car as he drove along Friary Street. In those days, the early 1960s, we used to expect to find a parking space on the two-way High Street, hopefully right outside the shop we wanted to visit. Imagine that?

I also have a clear memory of Buyers, a second-hand shop in Friary Street and its slogan, “We buy anything.” I used to wonder about putting it to the test.

The same spot viewed as above from North Street.1960. Some will recall Fogwills and Buyers.

The same spot as above viewed from North Street c.1960. Some will recall Fogwills and Buyers.

After the First World War (the centenary of the outbreak occurs next year) a tank was positioned at the bottom of North Street, as an item of public interest.

It was soon removed when veterans of the Western Front complained that it brought back too many terrible memories.

What do you call the rotunda and what are your memories of that area? Please leave a comment below.

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test 3 Responses to Opinion: There Is No Magic Now in the Guildford Rotunda

  1. Vic Gerhardi Reply

    October 18, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    This very much reminds me of Kingsbury Square Aylesbury. It also had a tank it in after the War and was removed.

  2. Henry Asman Reply

    October 11, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    I have just found a double advertisement from Amateur Gardener dated 29th June 1956 folded up in a 1941 copy of Mr Middleton’s Garden Book. The adverts are from Fogwills Ltd, 121, Friary St, Guilford.

    I have researched Fogwills and, as a NT member, intend to visit Shalford Mill and the site of their store in Friary Street, sometime next year.

    I do not know who the owner of the book was as it was only discovered whilst my parents-in-law were clearing out their house to move. I just thought it was very interesting.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    October 12, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Perhaps the music school could put on performances on there like in the old days when we had bandstands in the local parks.

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