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Whitney Toll Bridge
River Wye, Whitney-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK
Whitney Toll Bridge
associated engineer
Not known
date  1802
era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SO258474
ICE reference number  HEW 816
photo  © Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The present Whitney Toll Bridge is the fourth bridge to be built at this spot, and is an unusual combination of timber spans flanked with masonry arches. Between 1774 and 1795, the three earlier bridges were destroyed by flooding. The current structure has always been privately owned and remains in daily use. It was refurbished extensively in 1993.
The bridge crosses the River Wye near Whitney, 8km north west of Hay-on-Wye. In November 1774, a Parliamentary Bill was submitted for the erection of a bridge here, and the first was completed around 1779 but was soon swept away. The Whitney Toll Bridge Act 1780 authorised further construction, and two more bridges were constructed then lost, the third in February 1795. All three had five stone arches.
In July 1796, a fresh Bill was submitted, proposing a bridge with three central arches of greenheart timber, on the basis that latticed timber piers would enable floodwaters to flow through more easily. The Act was passed in 1797, and the current bridge was completed in about 1802.
The bridge's central 33.5m timber section is flanked by sizeable stone arched at each end. The north arch is semicircular and the south, semi-elliptical and slightly skewed. Both are of coursed sandstone with plain stone parapets. The masonry river piers have pointed cutwaters and are founded on large boat-shaped masonry bases.
The timber section consists of three roughly equal spans of around 11.3m, supported on two timber piers, founded on masonry sub-piers, with pointed end profiles on the west side. The timber lattice cutwaters are clad with galvanised metal sheeting. Diagonal timber trussing between the piers and the horizontal bridge beams at the third points of each span provide additional rigidity.
The 4.3m wide single-lane roadway over the central spans consists of a timber deck with overlaid tarmac surfacing. Timber handrailing with wire mesh panels is provided on both sides.
The bridge carries a 10 tonne weight restriction and only one vehicle is allowed on it at a time, with speed limited to 8km per hour (5mph). In 1981, the bridge and its toll house (SO258474), located at the bridge’s north west corner, were Grade II listed.
In 1992-3, the bridge was fully reconstructed at a cost of almost £300,000. More than 120,000 crossings are now made every year (2013).
The toll rights are tax-free by law. An Act of 1797 states: "The said bridge shall not be rated, assessed for or towards any public or parish rate or duty whatsoever". However, it is a privately funded venture, so owners of the bridge are responsible for its maintenance. It was owned by the one family and its descendants until 1980. Ownership changed in 1990, 2002 and 2012.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
Additional information from panel mounted on toll house.
http://transportheritage.com
www.bbc.co.uk
www.whitneybridge.co.uk
reference sources   CEH W&WCEH Wales
Location

Whitney Toll Bridge