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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

A1 Black Cat roundabout statue taken down for road upgrade

A landmark sculpture of a black cat has been removed from a roundabout during A1 roadworks.

National Highways said the public should not be "alarmed" at the removal, as the large figure on the Black Cat roundabout, near Bedford, was "safe".

The sculpture was taken down as part of a £950m upgrade of the A428 Black Cat route from Bedfordshire to Caxton Gibbet, in Cambridgeshire.

It was installed in 2004 and will be returned once the works have finished.

National Highways said it would share updates on its plans for the cat.

A spokesperson said: "If you've used the Black Cat roundabout in the last few hours, you may have noticed something has changed - there's been a cat-napping.

"Please don't be alarmed, as the removal of the cat and kittens was performed safely and securely by our construction team so we can continue works on the upgrade.

"The cat is now having a well-earned rest, safe and secure at one of our site offices."

The Black Cat roundabout, on the junction between the A1 and A421, south of St Neots in Cambridgeshire, takes its name from the Black Cat Garage that was in the area in the 1920s.

It is believed that the garage was converted into a nightclub, then a restaurant.

It then became derelict until a petrol station was opened in the 1980s.

In 2004 the landmark artwork was created by four men, including Jack Pike.

"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," he said.

The cat's shape was based on a portrait of a cat that was on the Black Cat Garage's clock tower almost a century before. It was manufactured by Watson and Brookman from steel plate.

It was removed during the construction of the Great Barford bypass in 2005.

A sculpture of a large black cat in the middle of a roundabout

In 2004 the landmark artwork was created by four men, including Jack Pike

Once the road was reopened, a larger cat was installed to match the larger roundabout.

National Highways created a video that showed how the sculpture was stolen in 2007 by "cat burglars", broken in 2013, vandalised with spray paint, cleaned up, and had two kittens added in 2019.

The new ten-mile (16km) dual carriageway will link the Black Cat roundabout to the Caxton Gibbet roundabout on the A428 between St Neots and Cambridge.

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