Stratford-upon-Avon: Turf war breaks out in Shakespeare’s hometown between rival ghost tour guides
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A tempest is brewing in Shakespeare’s hometown after a turf war broke out between two rival ghost tour guides. Married couple Janet and John Ford, who own Tudor World, are at loggerheads with Joe Rukin, who runs Sinister Stratford ghost tours.
Both offer holidaymakers tours of Stratford-upon-Avon’s spookiest landmarks with the summer season meaning potentially bumper sales. But a bitter war of words has erupted after the Fords accused Mr Rukin of touting for business outside their museum in the famous Warwickshire town.
The couple have run the Tudor World experience, which includes ghost tours, from the historic Shrieve’s House in Sheep Street for almost two decades. Customers pay between £3.50 and £18 for either a walking tour or a ghost tour which starts from their museum close to Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Meanwhile Sinister Stratford run three daily tours which cost £6.66 for children and £9.99 for adults. Each tour starts just 100 yards from Tudor World. Relations descended further after a mix-up on TripAdvisor meant Tudor World customers were directed to their bitter rivals website.
In a further twist, an online glitch also wrongly identified The Ford’s 12th century Shrieve’s House as Sinister Stratford’s headquarters. The Fords say they “feel like mugs” and accuse Mr Rukin of skulduggery.
Mr Ford stormed: “We have to pay for expensive essential repairs to our historic building while having to cope with yet another blow to our business. We feel like mugs paying for this ancient building, whilst anyone can come and take our trade without any overheads of consequence.”
Mrs Ford added: “He [Joe Rukin] is playing the victim. We are not the aggressors, nothing could be further from the truth.” Mr Rukin, 49, who started the tours in January to supplement his earnings from walking tours in Coventry, hit back and accused the Fords of running a “vicious victimisation campaign”.
He said: “Tudor World are trying to drum me out of town for something that isn’t my fault at all. The reality is that TripAdvisor cocked up. I’ve been verbally abused while doing my tours. It’s become rather farcical. All I’m doing is trying to earn a living.
“Mr and Mrs Ford don’t have a monopoly on conducting tours. I don’t have a permanent office and I have to meet my customers somewhere.”
The divorced father-of-one, from Kenilworth, says the mix-up occurred when the review website accidentally allocated his business in Shrieve’s House. He said: “Tudor World have accused me of false advertising, which simply isn’t true.
“Now my Google profile has been suspended because of a complaint made. It’s a vicious victimisation campaign. They are barracking me on the street, they threatened to run me out of town and told me to ‘go back to Coventry’.”
TripAdvisor have now corrected the error. Locals however, have seen the funny side of the row, with one saying: “After hearing the arguments from both sides, all I can say to them is ‘a plague on both your houses.”