The Lion Story

Last updated on 30 January 2024

Here are some articles from 1976 that featured news that we had a Lion in Tollerton! Several newspapers carried this story from the Evening post and local papers to Newark papers as well as the Sunday Times.

Quote to the right of picture says:

Village shock: A mock-up picture used in the Evening Post in July 1976 during the Tollerton lion hunt.

Tollerton’s Lion Tamers!

They might not know much about lions but they certainly knew the area round Tollerton. On the left is Chief Insp John Smith (lives Muir Avenue) at the rear is Sgt Alan Robinson (West Bridgford), pointing is Sgt Joy Lloyd (Lives at Keyworth); next to him  is Insp John Hooley (Stella Avenue, then Ruddington), middles rider is PC Alf Peters (Lived Cotgrave Road). The man in the overalls was the lion expert, terry Hall!

Tollerton lion is a mystery

Villages south of Nottingham went on lion alert in the summer after two milkmen reported seeing a big cat near Tollerton Airport. “We both saw what to us was a lion,” said one of the men. “It was 50 yards away, had its head down and its long tail had a bushy end. It was walking away from us, very slowly.”
His colleague added: “We would both stake our lives on what we saw.”

Police were called to the scene and, although officers initially were disbelieving, a major operation was mounted. Householders in West Bridgford, Ruddington and neighbouring villages were warned to keep windows closed … and eyes open.

Police  deployed a helicopter and marksmen with high-powered rifles. Army units with infra-red nightsight equipment were called in and vets laid down doped meat in a bid to trap the beast. As word spread, more sightings were reported.

A Norfolk couple who had passed through Lowdham a week earlier rang to say they had seen a lion in a lay-by – but had not reported it for fear of not being believed.

An Edwalton farmworker claimed to have seen a lion in a field. Passengers on the top deck of a bus travelling on the A52 said they had seen a big cat in a roadside garden – officers investigated and found it was an ornamental stone lion.

Just as police prepared to wind down the operation, the county’s deputy coroner reported seeing a creature resembling a lion near his home in Stanton-on-the-Wolds.

Two golfers at the nearby Stanton club also said they had seen the creature. Armed officers searched the grounds, disrupting a tournament.

After eight days, the hunt was stopped. No lion was ever found.

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