The Forest of Dean.

Bygone Days

Bygone Days

1889 - The Village that took the blame.

One late April day in 1889, an incident, both ugly in action and repercussion, between the town of Cinderford and its neighbouring village to the north-west, Ruardean, occurred which has gone down in the annals of Forest of Dean folk lore - the killing of the bears. In ensuing years that sombre event caused rift, anger and often violence as the people of Ruardean were blamed for the death of the animals.

Rugby teams from the Forest playing away games were often baited with cries of: 'Who killed the bears?' and even as late as 50 years ago, it was a brave man who posed the question, particularly within earshot of Ruardean village itself. It was a stain on its character that the village found hard to endure and reacted sorely against.

Happily, as time went by, those directly involved or eye-witnesses, died and feeling mellowed. So much so, that in 1989, the people of Ruardean marked the centenary of the killing, with fancy dress parades and a gala weekend which attracted considerable press and television coverage. So, exactly what did happen all those years ago on that road from Cinderford to Ruardean that soured relations between the two centres for nigh on the best part of a century.

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