It’s Black Cat appreciation day - hear from the man responsible for the statue
17 Aug 2023
Today is Black Cat appreciation day! In 2004, a metal black cat statue was placed on the Black Cat roundabout - we spoke with the man responsible for this…
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The black cat statue is a local landmark. We can trace the black cat name back to the 1920s, when a nearby garage painted a black cat on the garage’s clock tower.
But it wasn’t until 2004 that the cat truly came alive, placed on the roundabout by four men: Jack, Clive Pete and Chris. Although the actual cat structure may have changed throughout the years, its spirit and symbolism has remained.
We caught up with Jack on all things black cat.
What inspired you, Clive, Pete and Chris to place a cat on the roundabout?
When I was parish councillor, it was quite obvious that the roundabout was something quite significant, but I couldn’t do anything as a parish councillor.
When I retired from being a parish councillor, I gathered together a few of my engineering friends at a dinner party and put it to them that we should put a black cat statue on the roundabout.
First of all, the idea was to do it in marine plywood, but then Clive, who had a flatbed cutter in the middle of Chawston, said he could cut it in metal, and we took it from there. He made the first small cat, which now resides in my garden because when there were upgrades the bigger roundabout required a bigger cat!
Without Clive, the cat wouldn’t have had this sort of permanency and it probably wouldn’t have lasted.
How long did this process take and what did it involve?
It took about four or five months from the first conversation to getting it onto the roundabout.
Did yourself, Clive, Pete and Chris ever decide upon a name for the cat? Or will it forever be known as ’the black cat’?
It’s always been the black cat, or occasionally the moggy!
Lots of events have happened surrounding the statue over the last 19 years. Is there one that particularly sticks out in your memory?
It was stolen in 2007, by what we believe to be students as part of a rag stunt. When it reappeared at the roundabout at Caldecote I was interviewed by BBC Look East.
We’ve kept an eye on it though. I remember someone painting it white. It was also pulled over when someone threw one of those round things people put in rivers to rescue people over the tail. Obviously someone wanted it back and all they could do was pull it down and they left the cat horizontal! It was a big job to fix that and Darren, one of the Friends of the Black Cat, was instrumental in getting it mended.
And of course the kittens have now been put there. I have no idea who did that.
What are your thoughts on the new upgrades and how do you feel about National Highways looking after the cat and returning it when the road reopens?
That’s fine by me, I’m now in my 80s and would like to see the cat maintained. I always thought it was right that the cat was there for people coming up and down the A1.
It’s rather like what Scotch Corner used to be. When I travelled and got to Scotch Corner I knew where I was, and think the black cat roundabout is another one of those.
National Highways will be looking after the black cat during construction and it will be placed back on the junction once it’s reopened.