History of the black cat

The black cat roundabout on the A1 is a local and national landmark. As part of the new A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet road improvements the roundabout will be going to make way for a new free-flowing junction. But what is happening to the black cat? 

History of the black cat

We fully understand the importance of the black cat as a local landmark, so don't worry we will be looking after the cat and her kittens during construction. And be rest assured that the black cat will be returned once the build is over. 

Because we get so many of you asking about the black cat and where the roundabout gets its name from, we’ve been working to unearth some of its fascinating history and tales.

This is our understanding based on what we have learnt from talking to people local to the black cat and local website. But if there’s something you know that could help us fill some gaps then please let us know by emailing us on info@a428.co.uk.

20th century - the first pawtrait

Understandably, the 20th century is the time period we know least about the black cat.

We know that the roundabout takes its name from a garage, opened in the 1920s. In this image you can see a black cat on the garage’s clock tower.

Over the years the garage was converted to a nightclub and subsequently restaurant. It then became derelict until a petrol station was opened in the 1980s.

A black and white image from around the 1920s, with a black cat painted onto a white clock tower in the middle of a roundabout and someone using the road in a vehicle
Black cat statue in the early 2000s in the middle of the roundabout on some grass, with signs for London, Stevenage and Sandy in the background

2004 - hello kitty

It was in January 2004 that four men: Jack, Clive, Pete and Chris, installed the first black cat statue. The cat’s shape was based on the one on the clock tower from almost a century ago. It was manufactured by Watson & Brookman at Chawston crossroads from steel plate.

The cat was removed during the construction of the Great Barford bypass in 2005 and used as a mascot for the construction office.

Once the road was reopened, with the help of Clive and Watson and Brookman, we installed a larger cat to match the larger roundabout.

2007 - a cat burglar strikes

In June 2007 the black cat went missing. And never returned! We then replaced the cat in August 2008.

2013 onwards - cat-astrophe

The decade of the teens combined with some infamous black cat bad luck. The black cat frame was vandalised and bent - turning it into a flat black cat! Local group ‘Friends of the Black Cat’ banded together to get the moggy back to its former glory, and we reinstalled it in early 2015.

A few years of calm followed, until it was vandalised with white spray paint in 2019 (not a good look for the black cat!). But just a couple of months later it was joined by some little black kittens to keep it company.

The black cat is in the middle of the roundabout but its body and tail have been flattened and it's lying horizontally, but its legs are still intact
One of the black kitten statues with the black cat statue in the background

A purr-fect legacy 

During construction, the cat will be pampered and well-looked after to make sure she’s purring once the junction reopens and she's returned.

Watch this space for more updates on the cat and kittens. 

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A428 Black cat image