Hemel Hempstead town guide
Hemel Hemstead is one of the new towns created in the post war period to cater for the overspill of population from the centre of London. The town is based upon a much earlier settlement with evidence of prehistoric occupation. The area was important to the Romans with the nearby Roman city of Verulamium (now St Albans) providing much trade for the local people.
Modern Hemel may be more famous for its Magic Roundabout, a feature of the local road network. It used to be called the Plough roundabout but the "Magic" roundabout, as it tends to be called, was built to cope with the increased congestion that came as Hemel grew. On the first day of operation in June 1973, traffic came to a standstill and backed up to Berkhamsted. Drivers eventually got used to it although you still see the occasional motorist causing chaos and looking totally lost on the roundabout.
The main railway line connecting London to the great cities of the West Midlands, the North West and Scotland passes through Hemel, providing connections for the traveller to those parts. The railway was preceded by the Grand Union Canal, built to link London to Birmingham and important for trade even as late as the 1950's, it is now a source of pleasure for many holiday boaters and onlookers alike.
A hire car will allow the visitor to venture out of Hemel and explore the many attractions around the area, such as the delightful Chiltern Hills.