Poultry Food and the Chicken Roundabout
A Local Legend, Poultry Food and the Chicken Roundabout
A roundabout near Bungay in Suffolk was once famous for it chickens! The A143-B1332 roundabout acquired a chicken population which were thought to have escaped from a local allotment. There were as many as 300 chickens on the roundabout at one time and it became something of a Suffolk landmark.
The Bungay Bypass
The chickens had resided at the site for many years before the busy bypass was even built and miraculously survived the construction of the road and roundabout. The chickens initially survived by feeding on grain from the adjacent malting but this later burnt down. They were then tended to by "The Chicken Man".
The Chicken Man
The chickens were certainly free range but required help to survive. Gordon Knowles, a Bungay resident cared for the chicken for many years by taking wheelbarrows of corn to the birds. However, the number of birds began to dwindle despite the provision of poultry food and the RSPCA became concerned that the birds were being harmed or stolen. In any case, the roundabout was far from ideal as a home for the birds! It was on the main road to Great Yarmouth with hundreds of thousands of cars passing along it every year.
At one stage the council tried to remove the birds but their attempts were halted after protests from the locals who treasured their unique neighbours. Sadly they were eventually to lose them anyway.
By 2010 only 6 chickens remained and these were removed and given to an animal charity. Two years later a plaque was displayed in honour of Mr Knowles who had become a local legend. Town councillor Deidre Shepherd described Knowles as "one of the last great eccentrics".
Clearly some people hadn’t got the message about the end of the chickens’ tenure at the roundabout because in 2013 five miniature hens were dumped there. The birds had no shelter or poultry food and two were already dead by the time they were discovered to be on the roundabout.
Now the chicken roundabout is back in the news thanks to a special art project. A Suffolk art group, Black Dog Art, has created 53 brightly decorated chickens from MDF and will be displaying them throughout Bungay before they are auctioned off in August. They will create an art trail that should delight residents and bring visitors to the town.
If you happen to be in Suffolk during July it could be worth stopping by to see the art trail. The endeavour celebrates a unique sight and an episode in the area’s history that will always be treasured.