Chicken roundabout

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Chicken roundabout

The chicken roundabout is a roundabout located on the A143 road, on the Bungay and Ditchingham bypass in Suffolk, United Kingdom. The roundabout was famous for being the habitat for a large group of feral chickens, which were fed and cared for by a local man until their numbers declined and they were relocated in 2010.


The poultry predated the roundabout, having lived at the site for decades before its construction.[1] They are thought to have escaped from an allotment and survived on grain from a nearby maltings, which burned down in 1999.[2] They were fed and cared for by Bungay resident Gordon Knowles for almost two decades, during which time they at one point numbered 300.[1]

In 2000 Norfolk County Council planned to move the birds over safety concerns[3] but backtracked following protests.[4][5] In 2002 the flock was threatened again when campaigners reported the chickens were being "systematically – we think – stolen and sold".[5]

2006 saw an increase in numbers, to a total of over 100, thought to be the result of pet owners' fears over avian flu;[6] and a decline, attributed to people feeding them rat poison, which led to their numbers being reduced to around six.[7]

In July 2009 some 70 chickens went missing from the flock of around 100. An RSPCA inspector commented that "Some may have been taken by foxes or other natural predators, but there is a possibility that others may have [been] stolen or harmed."[8] In 2010 the remaining six birds were given to an animal charity.[1] Knowles said he would stop looking after the chickens as he could no longer bear to see them maltreated.[9]

In 2012 a plaque was unveiled celebrating Knowles's work, and a ceremony held at which Bungay town councillor Deirdre Shepherd described Knowles as "a living legend" and "one of the last of the great eccentrics".[10][11] Also in 2012 a campaign was launched to commemorate the chickens with a series of statues;[4] however in January 2013 Ditchingham Parish Council blocked plans for the "Chicken of the East" statue, which it described as a safety hazard.[12]

In February 2013 a group of five miniature hens were left on the roundabout,[13][14][15] but were relocated days later.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Chicken roundabout: New birds disappear from site". BBC News. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Mitchell, Laurence (2014). Slow Travel: Suffolk. Chalfont St Peter: Bradt Travel Guides. p. 82. ISBN 9781841625508. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Sapsted, David (25 September 2000). "Feathers fly at the chicken roundabout". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Chicken roundabout: Plans for statues at Ditchingham". BBC News. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Roundabout 'roosters' face new threat". BBC News. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Flu fears blamed for dumped hens". BBC News. 8 March 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Fear for wild roundabout chickens". BBC News. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Chickens vanish from roundabout". BBC News. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Chickenman to retire". Beccles & Bungay 24. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Chicken roundabout: Plaque for Bungay's 'chicken man'". BBC News. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Lay, Louisa (12 December 2012). "Honour for Bungay man who made Chicken Roundabout a national hit". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "Chicken roundabout: Ditchingham Council opposes statue". BBC News. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Hens dumped at Norfolk's 'chicken roundabout'". BBC News. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Bradley, Kathryn (17 February 2013). "Poultry return to Ditchingham chicken roundabout". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Return to 'chicken roundabout'". ITV News. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014.