Frank's mini-roundabout legacy

Article in Echo 26th June 2008

Frank Blackmore obituary as reported in the Evening Echo edition dated Thursday 26th June 2008 on page 29,
Evening Echo as discovered by Malcolm Brown.

Text in Article

The name Frank Blackmore is not well known in south Essex, and the knowledge he was a traffic engineer is unlikely to raise interest levels to fever pitch.

Yet Mr Blackmore, who died on June 5, aged 92, left one historic legacy of sorts in this area.
His unsigned memorial can be found at Tarpots, the site both of Britain’s first raised mini-roundabout and first staggered road junction.

Whatever feelings drivers may harbour towards it, the system had an immediate, proven effect both in speeding traffic flow and curbing accident rates.

Opened in 1970, the Tarpots scheme was considered such a success that the Benfleet template has since been copied all over Britain.

Blackmore was an engineer by training and his mini-roundabout systems were inspired by the interlocking cogs of industrial machinery and car gear systems.

He was also a war-hero, a pilot who flew many anti-submarine forays in Wellington bombers.

His engineering skills were put to good use in the development of the Leigh light, a light, concentrated searchlight devised to pick out Uboats at night, when they resurfaced to charge their batteries. Air patrols would use radar to identify the Uboats, stalk them, then switch on the lights at the last moment.

By then it was too late for the submarines to crash dive.

Blackmore stayed with the RAF until 1959, but his interest increasingly focused on the ground rather than the air.

He became convinced the technical inventiveness that had done so much to help Britain win the war could be harnessed to improve the country’s traffic problems. The Tarpots junction was one result of that conviction.

The article is correct about Frank Blackmore and the first mini-roundabout in Benfleet but it was not the Tarpots ones but the one at St Mary’s Church.

Nonetheless Frank Blackmore OBE certainly had a a varied career as shown in the The Guardian,   and this tribute.

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