New toll houses at Bristol’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge have opened ahead of schedule, thanks to Swindon-based construction firm Beard.
The seven-month project involved Beard demolishing and replacing both of the outdated 1950’s toll booths on the Clifton side of the bridge and a 1970’s building on the North Somerset side.
The Victorian toll houses on the Leigh Woods approach have been retained and carefully refurbished.
The new toll houses provide a compact yet comfortable working environment for the team of bridge attendants, with all the amenities and facilities required for them to operate 24/7 and 365 days of the year.
The Trust’s vision was to also replace the toll houses with modern, more energy efficient structures that better complement Brunel’s bridge design.
The simple, functional and contemporary design of the new toll houses is intentionally understated and subservient to Brunel’s iconic Grade I listed structure.
The use of high-quality materials reflect and enhance the setting and industrial heritage of the bridge.
Working in challenging circumstances and in a sensitive area, Beard worked closely with the Trust and local authorities to minimise disruption and impact on users and neighbours during the build.
One of the major challenges of the project was the fact that Clifton Suspension Bridge links Bristol to North Somerset, so there was the added complication of working with not one but two local authorities, one at either end of the bridge.
Beard director Mike Hedges said: “We overcame the complexities of working in a hugely sensitive spot while successfully minimising disruption for up to 10,000 vehicles a day which use the bridge, completing the project slightly ahead of time and to budget.
“Having just completed the Being Brunel Museum alongside the SS Great Britain, we brought our expertise to another one of Brunel’s flagship projects, fulfilling Purcell’s meticulous design to provide contemporary buildings that are sympathetic to Brunel’s original vision.
“I am sure that the new toll houses will provide users with a much more comfortable environment in which to work, whilst blending seamlessly into their surroundings.”
Trish Johnson, bridge master added: “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 new 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.”
The Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust celebrated the successful completion of The Clifton Toll House with an official opening on September 4 by Peaches Golding, Lord Lieutenant of the City & County of Bristol.