The Bear of Hackney Marshes

A visit to Beasts of London leads me to the mysterious tale of the sighting by four terrified boys of a bear on Hackney Marshes in the 1980s. Don’t remember hearing about this growing up in Hackney – not even the gory detail that two decapitated bear corpses had been found earlier, floating in a nearby river. These bodies are talked about in various forums as the corpse of a giant, or as skinned bears, the result of feuding local circuses. This writer seems to know the real explanation: one of those ‘pointless traditions’ which judging by the number of urban wild beast sightings on the internet is still going strong. Weirdly, it looks like the Hackney bear was immortalised in an episode of Jasper Carrott’s The Detectives.

6 thoughts on “The Bear of Hackney Marshes

  1. fuchsoid

    I was living in Hackney Wick at the time, and I remember this well. I even have the cuttings from the local paper somewhere. I also remember a man in a pub (that reliable source of information) describing how he had found two dead llamas in a skip at about the same time and place, so perhaps there is something in the circus theory.

  2. Hampshire

    I was one of the armed police officers that searched the marshes for this bear. No trace of it, apart from the footprints in the snow (boxing day). Thought to be a hoax.

  3. Emma

    How amazing, good to hear from you. So are the stories about skinned/decapitated bear corpses, circus feuds etc just myths, do you know?

  4. Neil Arnold

    Hi, I’m the guy who wrote of the tale on my BEASTS OF LONDON website, and would like to hear from anyone who recalls the case, or ahs clippings. By what I’ve researched it seems that some strange animal was in fact seen, but it was only deemed a hoax because the police could find no trace, which in fact is nearly always the case when it comes to finding exotic animals. Absense of evidence does not always mean evdience of absence.

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