Official opening of the new toll houses at Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge

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The Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust is celebrating the successful completion of the new toll houses which were designed by RIBA award winners Purcell architects and built by award-winning local construction company Beard.

The Clifton Toll House will be officially opened on 4th September by Mrs Peaches Golding OBE, Lord Lieutenant of the City & County of Bristol.  

The seven-month project involved Beard demolishing and replacing both the outdated 1950’s toll booths on the Clifton side of the bridge and an additional 1970’s building on the Leigh Woods side. The Grade I listed 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.

Purcell’s simple, functional and contemporary design of the new toll houses is intentionally understated and subservient to Brunel’s iconic Grade 1 listed structure. The use of high-quality materials reflect and enhance the setting and industrial heritage of the bridge.  
Purcell undertook extensive consultation during the design process with stakeholders and local residents in order to produce high quality proposals which would be well received. Beard then worked closely with the Trust and local authorities to minimise disruption and impact on users and neighbours during the build.

Dan Courtney, architect at Purcell said: “Working in the shadow of Brunel’s suspension bridge meant that we were constantly aware of our responsibility to complement the dramatic context of the new toll houses. Historic sites always throw up challenges and the ground conditions beneath the proposed buildings required creative solutions to overcome. A good relationship between Purcell, the client, Beard and the other consultants meant that issues were resolved smoothly with minimal disruption. It was a pleasure for us to be involved in this fantastic scheme.”
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 who 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 this 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. We have worked closely with Purcell and Beard to minimise disruption to bridge users and our neighbours.”  


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