The last lion in the area was shot near St Ives in 1856. As with modern housing developments called “Woodland/Orchard/Meadow/Owl’s Hoot”, places are very often named for what was once there, but is now destroyed. There is uncertainty about who named Lions River, but likely this is the reason.
The famous River Walkers will pass the village late next week after wandering for 80kms along the convolutions of the river. Lions River has seen its share of celebrities over the years. In 1947, the royal train bearing King George VI and his entourage stopped at the station on their tour of South Africa and met the Thokan family who arrived in the area in 1915 and are still trading in Lions River.
The Mandela Capture Site, where Nelson Mandela was arrested in August 1962 is situated nearby. Some controversy surrounds its exact location but the arresting officer is adamant that they chose that dangerous corner knowing the car would have to slow down there. On his trip to the site, Mandela asked to visit the old Thokans store as he remembered stopping there for refreshments on his journeys in the 1950’s.
Beyond the ruins of the old railway bridge, the large flood plain is a picture in Spring when masses of pink and white striped Crinum bulbispermum are in flower.