HC Deb 05 June 1871 vol 206 cc1541-2

asked the honourable baronet the Member for Lambeth, the chairman of the joint committee for freeing the bridges on the Thames from toll, For what cause Kew Bridge, which is named in the Act of 1869 as the first bridge to be freed, is not yet open to the public, when Staines Bridge, Walton Bridge, and Kingston Bridge have been for some time past free?


, in reply, said, the Committee had been placed in great difficulty by the unreasonable claims of the proprietors of the bridges. The whole sum available for freeing the five bridges was £118,000; but the proprietors of one bridge alone required £126,000 for the purchase of their tolls, and the proprietors of Kew Bridge asked for £70,000, their bridge having been put up to public auction a few years back, when the upset price was £39,000. The Committee, therefore, turned their attention to three other bridges, two of which—those at Staines and at Kingston—had certain charges upon them, the payment of which would make them free to the public. The Committee thought they would be rendering a greater benefit to the public by freeing those bridges than by entering into a prolonged negotiation, and leaving them closed. It was, however, believed that the proprietors of Kew Bridge and of Hampton Court Bridge would soon moderate their demands, and as the funds in the hands of the Committee increased slightly every month, while the bridges were deteriorating and their tolls becoming less, it was possible that in a short time an equilibrium might be found between the demands of proprietors and the funds at the disposal of the Committee.