Swinford Bridge has a mystery owner

I am sorry that the new owner of Swinford Bridge wants to remain anonymous.

I have never objected to the owner being allowed to avoid tax as upkeep of an 18th-century structure can be expensive and the obligation to provide a ferry if the bridge becomes unsafe would also be costly.

The mystery buyer paid £1.08m. Cars and lorries pay 5p so the annual income from the crossing is about £190,000. Before decimalisation cars used to be charged 5d which was based on five wheels including a spare one on the back of early cars.

The 1797 Swinford Bridge Act allowed Lord Abingdon to build the bridge and collect tolls tax free. This was thought to be an improvement on a ferry and an unreliable ford. The Talbot pub on the left bank opened a few years later in 1774.

Swinford Bridge , which has a lovely balustrade, only passed out of the Abingdon family in 1979.

See page 178.

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