Swinford Toll Bridge
Oxon OX29 4BX
Just outside the little market town of Eynsham near Oxford, the River Thames is crossed by an interesting 18th century toll bridge.
Constructed from local stone in 1767 by the Earl of Abingdon, the bridge was opened in 1769. An Act of Parliament was passed granting ownership of the bridge and its tolls to the Earl and “…to his heirs and assignees for ever.”
This quaint remnant of Georgian English law still operates today and vehicles passing over the privately owned bridge are required to pay a 5p toll.
The bridge is one of only two remaining private toll bridges that cross the Thames upstream of London; the other is Whitchurch Bridge between Pangbourne in West Berkshire and Whitchurch-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.
The Swinford-Eynsham Bridge is a triumph of Georgian architecture and has been described as the finest of the many bridges over the River Thames. The B4044 (road to Oxford is a popular shortcut but stopping to pay the minimal toll causes massive traffic delays especially in the morning and evening rush (peak) hours.
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Toll is still 5p per car
The bridge has recently been sold to a new private owner who is prevented by the legislation from levying a higher toll. With approximately 4 million vehicles passing over the bridge each year paying a toll of 5p per car and up to 50p per lorry, it is still a nice little earner!
It is worth travelling to Oxford by this route just for fun but best not in peak hour.
Visitors may wish to read the article titled Batheaston - Bathampton Toll Bridge in this website.
Google Map - Swinford Toll Bridge