Lions Bridge, Church Street, Arcadia, Pretoria

Lions Bridge Image source

The bridge was designed by the Department of Public Works of the ZAR, under the guidance of Sytze Wierda. It was built by JJ Kirkness and was officially opened by President Kruger on 11 June 1894. It is the oldest existing bridge over the Apies River and the only such structure remaining from the ZAR era in the centre of Pretoria. It The ‘Leeubrug’ was built larger and stronger than the previous bridge (Arcadia Bridge) which it replaced to better withstand floods. It is unclear where the name comes from but suggestions are that it possibly came from the amount of lions that were hunted in that area at the time or from the lions on the ZAR coat of arms. The bronze lions were made in Scotland and originally there were also two gas lamps on each sideof the bridge.

Architect: 
Sytze Wopkes Wierda
Sytze Wierda was born in the Netherlands and was renowned as the first Government Architect and Engineer for the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek(ZAR). Over the fourteen years of working for the government, he and his team developed the Republican Style (also known as Eclectic Wilhelmiens), designing numerous significant buildings. His exact town of birth is disputed and even his architectural education is unclear, though it is known that he was originally schooled to be a carpenter. The suburb Wierdapark, in Centurion, is named after him.

It was declared a National Monument under old NMC legislation on 31 December 1981.


References:
•  www.sahra.org.za/node/19289
artefacts.co.za/architect (accessed 20 January 2014).
http://www.dutchfootsteps.co.za/lionbridge.html
Google map: 

Last updated : 20-Mar-2018

This article was produced for South African History Online on 14-Jul-2011