The ‘toilet roll’ roundabout near Cambs with an unfortunate nickname

The ‘toilet roll’ isn’t the most flattering nickname for an architect’s work.

But this 11-metre high steel structure – sat on a roundabout on the A1307 in Haverhill, Suffolk – is now firmly attached to its pet name.

Locals routinely refer to the ‘bog roll’ or the ‘toilet roll’ as shorthand for the roundabout – even the local police force uses the nickname.

But the structure, which to some resembles an unfurling roll of Andrex, was initially built as a mark of Haverhill’s ambition in accelerating local business.

Equipped with neon lights and a laser, it also claimed the niche title of being the world’s first roundabout to contain a laser when it opened in 2004.

The grand opening was a big event, with Broadchurch actress Charlotte Rampling turning up to get things underway.

A large crowd gathered on the cold and wet evening of November 10 as Rampling – who was born in the neighbouring village of Sturmer – pushed the button to illuminate the roundabout with a laser beam and soft blue neon lights.

The crowd then enjoyed a laser and light show courtesy of Harwick business Laser Innovations.

Local enterprises provided most of the funding for the £100,000 project, which also benefited from a £22,500 community grant.

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Yet even at its genesis, there was an indication that the roundabout might raise eyebrows in the town.

Christopher Gurteen, whose business helped fund the structure, said in 2004: “This world-class design will generate immense publicity for the town.

“Love it or hate it, it will be a talking point for years to come.”

And it has certainly become just that, as locals discussed whether it more closely resembled a toilet roll or a kitchen roll.

Since then, the ‘toilet roll’ nickname has stuck.

The 'toilet roll' roundabout on the A1307 in Haverhill
The roundabout claimed the title of being the first in the world equipped with a laser
(Image: Cambridge News)

Manufactured in Haverhill, the structure was designed by London sculptor Rob Olins who worked with local school children to create concept pieces.

Olins said when it opened: “My brief was to ensure that the people and businesses in Haverhill had an input into what was being created, so we held both workshops and exhibitions in the town to invite comment.”

The final design featured a leaning structure of reinforced steel and stainless steel mesh.

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