New animation tells storied history of Black Cat roundabout


27 October 2023

Press Release

New animation tells storied history of Black Cat roundabout

To celebrate the junction's past, National Highways has released a new animation showcasing the history of the Black Cat roundabout

The famed history of the Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire has been brought to life on National Black Cat Day with a new animation released today (27 October) by National Highways.

Watch the animation here: 

The notorious Black Cat roundabout is on the junction between the A1, A421, and Bedford Road, just south of St Neots. It takes its name from the garage and car repair workshop which opened on the junction in the 1920s. It wasn’t until 2004 that the black cat truly came to life, when a black cat structure was placed on the roundabout by four locals.

“From early on it was quite obvious the roundabout was something quite significant,” said former parish councillor Jack Pike, who was one of the four locals who crafted the original black cat statue. “When I retired from being a parish councillor in the early 2000s, I gathered together a few of my engineering friends and we put together a plan to construct and install a black cat statue on the roundabout.”

The original black cat statue – which now resides in Dr Pike’s garden – was placed on the roundabout in January 2004, taking its shape from a pawtrait of the cat on the original garage clock tower.

Jack added: “First of all, the idea was to construct the cat with plywood, but my friend Clive said he could cut it in metal, and we took it from there. We made the first small cat, which now resides in my garden because when there were upgrades, the bigger roundabout required a bigger black cat!”

To celebrate the junction's past, National Highways has released a new animation showcasing the history of the Black Cat roundabout. From its first inception in 2004, to what happened when cat burglars stuck in 2007, and the cat-astrophic incident of vandalism in 2019.

Paul Salmon – Senior Project Manager at National Highways - said: “One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is ‘what will happen to the black cat statue’. We fully understand the importance of the black cat as a local landmark, and one of our project ambitions is to leave a purr-fect legacy, so don't worry we will be looking after the cat and her kittens during construction. And rest assured that the black cat will be returned once the upgrade is complete.”

National Highways is currently putting plans in place for the start of main construction on the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements. The scheme will help transform the region, improving journeys between Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots, and Cambridge.  

National Highways plans will see the creation of a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire. Both existing roundabouts will be upgraded into modern, free-flowing junctions with a new junction added at Cambridge Road, improving access to St Neots and its train station.      

When built, the new three tier junction at the Black Cat will allow traffic to flow freely on the A1 by travelling under the junction. The new dual carriageway (which will be a continuation of the A421) will flow freely, crossing over the A1 on a bridge, elevated above ground and continue to Caxton Gibbet. The A1 will pass in a cutting beneath the A421.

The improvements will help drivers save up to an hour-and-a-half on their journeys every week. 

The scheme is expected to open to traffic in 2027.   

Notes to Editors

National Highways is the wholly government-owned company responsible for modernising, maintaining and operating England’s motorways and major A roads.

Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available via the Traffic England website, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile apps. Local Twitter services are also available.

For further information please contact National Highways' press office (24hrs) on 0844 693 1448 and select the most appropriate option:

Option 1: National enquiries (9am to 5.30pm) and out of hours for urgent enquiriesOption 2: North West (9am to 5.30pm)Option 3: Yorkshire and North East (9am to 5.30pm)Option 4: West Midlands (9am to 5.30pm)Option 5: East Midlands (9am to 5.30pm)Option 6: East (9am to 5.30pm)Option 7: South East (9am to 5.30pm)Option 8: South West (9am to 5.30pm)

Harry Bellew

Senior Media Relations Manager