Clifton Suspension Bridge’s historic toll houses re-open after restoration

PUBLISHED: 17:16 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:23 10 September 2019

The new toll houses were opened on September 4. Picture: Peaches Golding

The new toll houses were opened on September 4. Picture: Peaches Golding

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Toll houses at Clifton Suspension Bridge have been upgraded.

The seven-month project involved the demolition and replacement of both the outdated 1950s toll booths on the Clifton side of the bridge and buildings on the Leigh Woods approach.

The grade-I listed Victorian toll houses on the North Somerset side have been retained and carefully refurbished, with the old tolls torn down in January.

MORE: Toll houses to be demolished.

New toll houses, which were officially opened on September 4, offer an improved working environment, with all the amenities and facilities required for them to operate 24/7.

The bridge joins Bristol and North Somerset and is owned and operated by the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust.

The trust's vision was to replace the toll houses with modern, more energy efficient structures which better complement Brunel's bridge design.

Toll houses were designed by Purcell Architects and built by construction company Beard.

Bridge master Trish Johnson said: "The bridge is a grade I-listed structure and 154 years old, which requires ongoing work to make sure it can continue to operate effectively and meet modern day needs.

"The toll houses improve the setting of the bridge and also provide better working conditions for our attendants, who do a fantastic job as curators of the bridge, round the clock and in all weathers.

"This has been an exciting but also an extremely challenging project to deliver from design through to completion.

"We have worked closely with Purcell and Beard to minimise disruption to bridge users and our neighbours."

Dan Courtney, architect at Purcell, added: "Working in the shadow of Brunel's suspension bridge meant we were constantly aware of our responsibility to complement the dramatic context of the new toll houses.

"Historic sites always throw up challenges and the ground conditions beneath the proposed buildings required creative solutions to overcome."

The suspension bridge is entirely funded by tolls, which have paid for its upkeep and in February contactless payment systems were installed.

It opened in 1864, more than 30 years after building work began, and has more than four million vehicle crossings a year.


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