Whitney Toll Bridge, Whitney on Wye
Stone and timber toll bridge over the Wye
Photos and report by Mike Slocombe, May 2006
The fourth crossing on the site, the Grade II listed Whitney toll bridge enjoys tax-exempt status, granted by a 1797 Act of Parliament which stated: "The said bridge shall not be rated, assessed for or towards any public or parish rate or duty whatsoever."
The first bridge on the site was built in 1779 but was later washed away by floodwaters, a fate shared by the following two bridges.
The current stone and timber construction carrying pedestrians and B4350 traffic over the Wye was erected in the early 19th century and was extensively renovated in 1993.
Tolls are collected on the northern side of bridge (10p for motorbikes, 50p for cars and £1.50 for coaches). Prices are registered by the Department of Transport and can't be increased without permission.
With the nearest toll-free bridges being four miles to the west and six miles to the east, up to 70,000 vehicles use the bridge every year.
The bridge has been owned by the same family for 180 years until it was snapped up in November by Brian Howard, a former bridge-builder and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire (he wasn't around when we visited, so here's a picture of the chatty, flute playing toll collector who lives on the other site of the bridge).
The bridge - which generates a a tax-free income of £35,000- was put up for sale for £295,000 in 2002.
Howard seemed well chuffed with his purchase when he spoke to local website thisisherefordshire.co.uk in Dec 2004: "I love bridges," he enthused, "They bring people together. Of all the things one can make as an engineer, bridges seem to me to be one of the nicest."
Previously a loss-making operation, Howard has plans to renovate the derelict café on the downstream side of the bridge, and give some of the proceeds from the bridge towards local causes, like the church.
Here's a picture of us about to have a little paddle by the bridge!