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Fredericton roundabout wins international honour — thanks to its art


Awarded by the Roundabout Appreciation Society in England — and they would know

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Opened just over a year ago, Fredericton’s Victoria Circle roundabout is drawing attention and honours from far and wide. A group of roundabout fans in England, calling themselves the Roundabout Appreciation Society — who meet in a pub, of course — have declared it this year’s winner of International Roundabout of the Year.

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One of committee’s members spoke with CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton .

“It’s the esthetic quality that we go for, as opposed to how the roundabout operates,” said Kevin Beresford, the society’s president.

The Victoria Circle Roundabout, an infrastructure renewal and road improvement project, connects major roads in the west end and links downtown sidewalks to the Trans Canada Trail, local parks and the Wolastoq — the original name of the Saint John River.

But catching appreciative eyes is the Blue Circle, a sculptural piece in the roundabout’s centre. Fredericton-born artist Marlene Hilton Moore, who now lives north of Barrie, Ont., created the installation of two large semi-circles to represent the north and south banks of the river, as well as the original layout of the town plan in two parts. The two halves are angled up and down to reflect the city’s growth and change.

“You’ve got that blue circle sculpture that’s all lit up in the nighttime and that symbolizes the Saint John River,” Beresford said.

“That’s the case in point. Anything can go on the roundabout, and it generally reflects what’s going on in that area whether it’s a local business or local artistry.”

And because “the traffic goes round and round it rather than just flowing past it” as it would with a traditional street, also means that those who wish to appreciate the art can simply take another loop around to see Blue Circle a second time.

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What attracted the group to appreciate roundabouts is that not only are they “a lot safer than traffic lights, they’re more efficient and a lot greener.”

With the Victoria Circle named International Roundabout of the Year, Beresford said he hopes people are inspired to admire it for its art and its function.

“If I can get them to look at that sculpture and for them to appreciate that they’ve got a lovely roundabout with it, I’ve done my job,” he said.

You’ve got that sculpture all lit up at nighttime that symbolizes the Saint John River

Kevin Beresford

The society’s origins go back to 2003, CBC says, when Beresford, who owns a small printing company in Redditch, near Birmingham, wanted to publish a unique calendar to give out.

Redditch, not known for its landmarks (to wit: the pool at Abbey Stadium Leisure Centre is heated using waste heat diverted from Redditch Crematorium), needed something to focus on for the calendar’s 12 months. Beresford decided to feature a Redditch roundabout for each page.

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Surprisingly, it sold 20,000 copies to roundabout lovers the world over.

“And it’s at that time when I began to take a little bit of interest in roundabouts,” Beresford said.

“And the roundabouts of Redditch spawned the Best of British Roundabouts and that spawned Roundabouts of the World.”

Beresford told the CBC the roundabout has an appeal that’s particularly British.

“I think it appeals to the English mentality, their psyche,” he said. “It’s based on a set of decorum and etiquette, it’s like ‘No, after you,’ ‘No, after you,’ sort of thing.’

“We don’t like fascist traffic lights telling us when to stop and when to go. We leave that to you guys and Americans and Germans, who like traffic lights,” he said.

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Beresford has been creating his calendars for 18 years. He believes their best subjects are the slices of British life that others overlook. Such as 2022’s Benches of Redditch calendar, and before that, public phone booths. And roadkill — which didn’t sell a single copy.

“I’m drawn to the ordinary … and I think people are captivated by the mundane.”

That must be true, given that Beresford has also been a proud member of the Dull Men’s Club, where he was “the dullest man in the U.K.”

“There’s a distinction between dull and boring,” he said, referring to his calendar’s subjects. “Dull, perhaps, but never boring.”

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