Tributes to 'Ole Chicken Man of Bungay' who catapulted roundabout into national spotlight
PUBLISHED: 14:34 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:34 27 January 2020
The 'Ole Chicken Man of Bungay' has been remembered as a town icon after passing away aged 87.
Gordon Knowles rose at the crack of dawn for more than three decades to take a wheelbarrow of food to feed wild chickens on Ditchingham's 'Chicken Roundabout'.
In doing so, he catapulted the junction on the A143 to national prominence, and was honoured with a plaque on Bungay's Falcon Bridge in 2012.
A family member said: "He loved life and cheered everyone up. He always had a happy face and spoke to everyone in the town. He helped anyone he could.
"Whether there was snow on the ground or pouring rain, he never missed a day feeding the chickens. If he had to be in hospital or away, he would ask someone else to feed them. He would buy two or three bags of corn each week and 20 loaves of bread, all out of his old age pension.
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"He was someone who loved Bungay and could never wait to get back if he went away. He was born and bred here and was Bungay through and through."
The daily ritual became so successful, at its height the roundabout's flock numbered more than 300 cocks and hens, before the final few were taken away by animal charities early last decade. It is believed the chickens lived on the roundabout for around 50 years.
Speaking in 2016, Mr Knowles said: "As I made my way home from swimming at Bungay Common one morning, I saw a bag of corn which had fallen off a lorry and split open, so I swept it up and fed the chickens.
"They were standing by the gate of the land owned by Frank James who happened to be standing there and he said 'they think it's Christmas Day' and I said 'Let them have Christmas every day' and that's how it started."
At the time of his plaque unveiling, Mr Knowles said: "I've always loved Bungay, I've lived here all my life and I feel very proud.
"I have always looked after animals the best I can and it's something I like doing. I was brought up with animals and I'm always feeding the birds and stray cats; they are close to my heart."
In 2016, Mr Knowles penned his memoirs, 'The Ole Chicken Man of Bungay', with the help of local author Tom Honeywood, which also recounted his childhood in Bungay's Broad Street and his working life at Clays and as a street cleaner.