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Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Monday, 6 September 2010 10:11 UK
Toll charge for Darley Abbey Derwent bridge crossing

Toll due at Darley Abbey bridge

An ancient Derby toll bridge is charging motorists £1 for passage in an attempt to reduce traffic in the area.

Drivers wanting to cross the River Derwent in Darley Abbey now have to pay the toll to use the crossing, which dates back to the 18th Century.

Patterns Properties recently took over part of Darley Abbey Mills, including the bridge and mill yard, and decided to cut traffic using the bridge.

The company says it will make the area more attractive to businesses.

Haslam's Lane
Motorists are charged 1 to use the Haslam's Lane crossing

At the moment the toll only applies to traffic using the bridge at peak times - but Anthony Attwood, from Patterns Properties which owns much of the mills, says they haven't ruled out charging throughout the day.

Mr Atwood said: "It's very difficult for companies who operate from these premises to get across the bridge and traffic through the village generally is quite considerable.

"At times there are queues to get across the bridge and considerable delays... and the wear and tear on the bridge and roadway is awful."

Some nearby residents have welcomed the introduction of the charge - though people living in Darley Abbey itself (the old village) and on Haslam's Lane and Folly Road are exempt from the toll.

Many of them are fed up with Haslam's Lane and the bridge being used as a rat run by motorists trying to avoid the busy A6 at peak times.

Antony Atwood

Long wait

Steve Rees, who lives on the road, even went to the lengths of installing CCTV to monitor traffic and was astonished to find around 2,000 cars using the crossing every day.

He told BBC Derby: "It started when the bus lane went up on Duffield Road - you'd sit and wait for 20 cars sometimes trying to cross the weir.

"I've got young children and the speed some of them come through - they're going far too quick."

Mr Rees conceded that paying the toll or finding an alternative route himself would cause a little inconvenience but feels is is worth it to cut vehicle numbers: We're going to have to either go all the way round in the car or walk.

"If [the toll] cuts down the volume of traffic it'll make life a lot easier - me getting to work - and make things that little bit safer."

It's said that the last time a toll was introduced, a few years ago, there was a significant drop in the number of cars using the bridge.

However, some residents have queried whether the toll will be used to repair the pot hole-ridden Haslam's Lane.

The bridge at Darley Abbey dates back to around 1783 when Walter Evans built a cotton mill by the weir on the River Derwent.

The octagonal gatehouse to the mill became known as the toll house having served that purpose for many years.

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