Bath toll-keeper’s daughter?

The housing development taking place at Western Riverside – around what was the city’s gas storage facilities – has prompted an exhibition which is currently on at the Museum of Bath at Work.

How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.
How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.

The old Victoria Suspension Bridge across the Avon is being renovated as part of a new, more accessible look for the river bank. Meanwhile the old Destructor Bridge – down river – is to be replaced with a two-way traffic bridge with pedestrian and cycle ways built in.

A view of the exhibition.
A view of the exhibition.

Both bridges are featured in the exhibition which is called ‘James Dredge and the Victoria Bridge – Past, Present and Future’ which is open Friday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 5pm until May 23rd.

James Dredge was the Bath brewer who went into bridge design and a new way of suspending them too. His Victoria Bridge was to make easier access from his nearby factory for delivering his beer but he turned his talents to bridge designs elsewhere. Amongst them was a non-too successful attempt at building Weston-super-Mare‘s first pier at Birnbeck Island. The causeway collapsed while under construction!

The 'doomed' Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.
The ‘doomed’ Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

Judith Simpson is a Virtual Museum visitor who made contact to tell me she had seen the Bath at Work exhibition. ‘I have my great-grandmother’s birth certificate. Her name was Gertrude Augusta Stanley Scott. Her place of birth was given as the Toll Cottage, Victoria Bridge, November 17, 1875. Her dad, John Scott – who was a retired naval/army man – was the toll collector.’

Judith wanted to know whether there was any archive material ‘that might confirm if the ‘shed/chimney l saw on the old photos of the bridge are indeed the toll cottage?’

She has since been in touch with Stuart Burroughs who is the Curator at the Bath at Work Museum and was able to view the pictures in greater detail and , as there is an image of the toll house in which she was interested, the Museum has been able to help a bit.

I know Judith is keen to hear from anyone who might know more about the toll keeper and his cottage and the history of this bridge.