The Toll Bridge
Situated on the main Taunton – Wells road, almost at the foot of the Mump, the bridge is close to the spot where King Alfred first bridged the river.
Under an Act of Parliament during the reign of King George IVth , a body of Commissioners was created and allowed to pull down the then existing bridge and erect that which stands today. The bridge, which spans the river Parrett, was built in the late 1820’s: it was financed by subscription with the issue of fifty-one bonds at £50* each.
IBurrowbridge toll bridge received wide publicity in the Press and on the radio, chiefly because of the sandglass ritual. Each year the sale or ‘letting’ generally took place in the Langport Arms hotel. The glass, which was placed on the table in front of the Commissioners, was turned after each bid. The sand took one minute to run through. When it had been turned three times without a fresh bid the last bidder became the purchaser. This entitled him, or her, to possession of the little cottage adjoining the bridge and the right to collect the tolls for the ensuing twelve months from noon on 1st. April.
During the total life of the toll, over £24,000* has been paid for the rights. The amount paid annually varied widely, but the highest occurred in 1938 when £1,830* was paid. This meant that the owner had to collect 146,000 threepenny* tolls before making any profit!
On 1st. April 1945, the ownership of the toll bridge was transferred to Somerset County Council. The change of ownership saw the end of some 117 years of toll on the bridge at Burrowbridge.
* Pre-decimal currency
Information extracted from: The Somerset Countryman – edition Jan – Mar 1945