Accounts of the toll regimes on these, mostly lovely, bridges typically make veiled criticism of the avaricious bridge builders, and the greedy owners who collected the tolls, and celebrate the day when local government officials bought them out. Photographs of smiling civic dignitaries leading the common people over the newly free bridge hammer the point home.
How sad and misguided! The dignitaries never paid for the tolling rights out of their own pocket. They raised taxes. Instead of being paid for by users, responsibility for looking after the bridge simply passed to those who did not!
We should hardly be surprised that triumphant toll-removal stories are soon followed by accounts of traffic congestion, neglect of repairs and eventually the need for a new bridge.
Aberdeen, bridge of Dee
Built in 1527. One of the six most congested road bridges in Scotland may be tolled in the future; a traffic hotspot to be charged at the highest rate under the government's proposed road pricing scheme. Let's hope it happens soon.
Aberdeen, old bridge of Don ("Brig o' Balgownie")
Built in 1290. Lord Byron swam in the river here as a child. The salmon pool is mentioned in Don Juan.
Built in 1813 to replace a much older bridge, it became toll free in 1835
Here is an engraving of the old Bedford bridge with its two toll houses.
Bishops bridge. River Wensum. Norwich
Built approximately 1340.
Byker Bridge over the Ouseburn between Newcastle and Byker.
This road viaduct opened 19th October 1878. The half penny toll was withdrawn on 12th April 1895
Castleford bridge over the river Calder
Located near a Roman ford. Designed by Bernard Hartley and built in 1808 by his son Jesse. Tolls ended in 1810
Chester, Old Dee Bridge
The present stone bridge was built around 1387. A number of wooden bridges on the same site had been lost in floods. Tolls were abolished in 1885.
First wooden bridge opened in 1780. The present bridge was built in 1810.
Coldstream bridge over the Tweed
Designed by John Smeaton, who also designed the Eddystone lighthouse, and built in 1767 by Robert Reid, tolls ceased in 1826.
Countess Wear bridge over the Exe at Exeter
Built in late 18th century
Croft bridge over the river Tees
The Great North Road crossed the Tees here. The bridge was built by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham around 1400. A marble stone containing fossils on the third arch from the Durham side marks the County boundary. Tolls ended in 1879.
Eggleston Abbey Bridge over the river Tees
Built in 1773.
Ferrybridge over the Aire
The great North road had crossed the river Aire here on a medieval bridge since the 12th century. The stone toll bridge was built between 1797 and 1804. I don't know when the tolls ended. The names of the designer John Carr and builder Bernard Hartley are engraved on plaques on the bridge. The toll house remains and the new A1 bridge passes nearby.
Fye bridge over the Wensum in Norwich
Gainsborough. Trent bridge (A631)
Built in 1791 to replace a ferry. Tolls abolished in 1932.
Grey's bridge, over the river Frome in Dorchester
Featured in Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge
Hebden packhorse bridge
This bridge over the river Hebden gave its name to the town.
Henley bridge over the Thames
Built in 1786. Tolls ended in 1873.
Hilgay toll bridge over the Great Ouse near Downham Market
Tolls ended in 1924
Ironbridge over the Severn
Built 1781. Tolls ended 1950.
Kew (king Edward VII) bridge over the Thames
A wooden toll bridge was built here in 1759, and replaced by a stone toll bridge in 1789. Tolls were removed in 1874 and the present bridge was built in 1898
Newcastle High Level bridge
Started in 1845. The railway line opened in 1849 and the roadway in 1850. Halfpenny tolls ended on 10 May 1937
Newcastle Redheugh Bridge
The present Redheugh bridge carrying the A189 (left above) built in 1983 has never had tolls. However the first bridge on this site 1871 (middle) which was largely rebuilt in 1901 (right) had tolls until 1937.
Potter Heigham bridge over the Thurne
14th century. So low and narrow that motor boaters have to hire a "Bridge Pilot" to navigate it.
Selby toll bridge over the Ouse
Pictures courtesy of Nigel Briggs. Click here for his website
The original bridge was built in 1791 and entirely replaced in 1969/70. Tolls ended in September 1991 when Selby District Council and North Yorkshire County Council bought it with contributions from local business.
Shardlow toll bridge over the Trent (the old Cavendish bridge)
Built in 1758. It was washed away in 1947. This monument, which records the scales of charges, now stands opposite the Navigation Inn.
Built in 1995 The tolls were £5.70 in high season. Tolls ended in 2004. Read the story here.
St Ive's bridge over the Great Ouse in St Ives. Cambridgeshire
The chapel in the middle used to be the toll house
Tickford bridge over the river Lovat, Newport Pagnall
Built in 1810 the present iron bridge replaced an earlier stone bridge. Said to be the oldest iron bridge still carrying motorised traffic.
The River Usk Chain bridge. Kemeys Commander, Nr Usk, Monmouthshire NP15 1PP
Built in 1906 replacing an older Chain Bridge. Tolls had been abolished in 1901 when the bridge was taken over by the local authority. Photo Courtesy of Rosemary Evans
Originally built under an Act of 1781. Rebuilt in 1916. Now owned and neglected by West Sussex County Council. Friends of Old Shoreham Toll Bridge, click here, are trying to save it.
Old toll bridge over the river Stour, Sandwich
King Canute issued the original charter for a toll ferry here. Tolls ended in 1977
Westgate Bridge over the river Severn at Gloucester
The first bridge was built at this point in 1189. The present bridge was built in 1999. The tolls were removed following riots against them in 1827.
Whitby swing bridge
The present bridge was built in 1909. A toll bridge on this site, or perhaps slightly to the south, i.e. upstream, was first mentioned in 1351. The people of Whitby have erected a war memorial at the west end. Click here.
Whorlton suspension bridge over the river Tees
Completed in 1831. It carried the Whorlton and Staindrop Turnpike Road. Click here for more.
Yarm bridge over the river Tees
Built in 1400 by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham. Click here for more.
York, Lendal bridge
Built in 1863. It was originally intended as a toll bridge but I'm not sure if it was actually ever subject to tolls. The toll hoses are now cafes.
York, Ouse bridge
York, Skeldergate bridge
Built in 1881, tolls ended on Skeldergate bridge in 1914.
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