The UK has a tradition of privately financed toll roads and bridges of at least 200 years. Many bridges were built by local people, to benefit their community, and long-distance roads or turnpikes were run by trusts. They were non-profit making, and tolls were charged to finance construction and maintenance. In the early 20th Century most roads ceased to be tolled; except for a handful of historic bridges – Whitney-on-Wye Toll Bridge being one of the eight remaining in private ownership. All the toll fees have been granted as being tax free in order to maintain and sustain Whitney Bridge in perpetuity for the benefit of the wider community. This means the entire toll fee of £1 for motor vehicles is used to maintain and manage Whitney Bridge with none going to national or local Government. Whitney Bridge does not receive any help financially from Hereford Council or national government.
Act of Parliament
In 1774 an enabling Act of Parliament was passed in order for Whitney Bridge at Whitney-on-Wye to be built. The main feature of the Act is the right to charge a toll to cross the bridge. The Act also provides guidance as to how and why Whitney Bridge and Toll House were to be built. In 1780 and 1797 further Acts were passed with amendments to the 1774 which included guidance over design of build, toll charge frequency and Toll House variance. The final 1797 Act did not supersede the 1774 Act; it merely provided additional features.
The Act of 1797 makes provision as to how the tolls are to be operated:
The Act states that each vehicle crossing is to pay just once a day and can cross as many times between midnight to midnight.
The current automated system provides the driver with a code for them to personally use to pass through the barrier as many times as they personally wish up to midnight on that same day.
All toll charge fee levels are set by Parliament and the Department of Transport .
These are the current agreed rates:
The toll crossing is automated, with the machine accepting 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 & £2 coins. There is no facility to give change and once the value of at least £1 is entered, the barrier is raised. Once a vehicle has passed through, the barrier automatically lowers.
For ease some people tender £2 instead of £1. In order manage these overpayments we run four Charity Days per year where a local charity ‘takes over’ Whitney Bridge for the day and collects the Toll fees for their cause. They can also use the land and facilities to maximise their fundraising on these days with refreshment sales, games and raffles etc…. Between 2012 and 2020 there has been over £16,200 collected across more than 20 different local community charities.
Payment may also be made by credit card at the toll office.
For regular bridge users, tokens are available to buy in advance. Each token is equivalent to one £1 and are sold in bags of 10 tokens for £6. This offers a saving of 40% as a token is just 60p each.
As a benefit to local people and businesses that need to use Whitney Bridge daily, we issue money saving season tickets. Season tickets offer unlimited use for one vehicle for a specified period of time.
The current rates are as follows:
There is no deposit payable for the pass card, but a £5 charge is payable for lost card replacement.
We can also arrange a monthly standing order option for the annual pass at £10 a month.
For households who wish to have two passes, we charge for the second card at half price.
We trust that the passes are being used for one family and would not wish this to be abused and passed around businesses etc. as this will only jeopardise the financial security for the future of Whitney Bridge.
Whitney Bridge allows free crossings for all police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, NHS district staff on duty and British military vehicles.
All toll fees are used to maintain, insure and operate Whitney Bridge – if fees are avoided and not paid, the sustainability of Whitney Bridge is in jeopardy and could possibly lead to the closure of the bridge. This would then cause the local people and business community a serious problem in their day to day functions.
Under the Act of Parliament 1797 as shown above, a fine of 20 shillings is payable for avoidance of payment of toll charges. In today’s money this is equates to in excess of £100.00.
The present level of fine has been set at £50 for any offence related to toll fee avoidance. This includes tail gating, code sharing and pass card sharing.
The fine will be issued to both the people passing on and those receiving the code or pass cards.
If the automatic barrier is broken to avoid payment of toll charge, the fine will be in addition to barrier repair costs which at present are approximately £250.
We have CCTV in operation and since 2012 we have only had two incidences of an intentional broken barrier. This has then been pursued by the police with the CCTV evidence and the fine implemented.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when drivers cross Whitney Bridge from Hay-on-Wye without the means of payment. There are warning signs 4 miles, 1.5 miles and directly at the entrance to Whitney Bridge informing all drivers of the cost of the Toll crossing. We can now accept credit and debit card. If the driver has no means of payment we will agree for payment to be made at a later date in order to avoid delays for other Bridge users.
Whitney Bridge has a 7.5 tonnes weight limit.
There are fines for crossing Whitney Bridge in a vehicle over the weight limit.
Fines for vehicles breaching the overweight limits:
Fines are payable immediately on presentation of invoice
There is interest charged at £10 per day for late payment and will be added per day from day 5 after invoice date.
The fine fees from coaches and HGVs fund regular surveys/inspections of Whitney Bridge in order to manage the maintenance schedule and to pre-empt any long-term damage caused by overweight limit vehicles crossing. The fine is set at a level to be a deterrent in addition to cover survey costs and potential damage costs.
Ignoring the Speed Limit
Whitney Bridge has a 5mph speed limit.
As the main Whitney Bridge structure is made of greenheart and oak, the top boards, when wet, can be slippery, so speeding is extremely dangerous and could cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.
This is of particular consideration as the bridge is also a carriage way for cyclists and pedestrians.
The fine for driving over the 5mph speed limit is £50.
All the toll income goes to the maintenance and running costs of the Bridge. Please enjoy it!