TAKING A TOLL GOES WAY BACK
FOR those who thought the answer to yesterday’s trivia question about Melbourne’s first toll road was the West Gate Bridge in 1978, you’re more than a century off.
Tolls were a fact of life in Melbourne long before the invention of the automobile.
As Kevin Cassidy, of West Preston, was the first to tell us, tolls were introduced in 1847 on Heidelberg Rd in Clifton Hill at the bridge over Merri Creek — the first in Victoria.
Tolls were widespread around Melbourne by the mid-1850s, including St Kilda Rd, a bridge over the Yarra River connecting Church and Chapel streets and, as Teresa from Pakenham notes, outside the old Sarah Sands Hotel on Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
By 1870, there were a staggering 190 toll gates throughout Melbourne and surrounds. But the deeply unpopular tolls were derided as a “relic of barbarous ages” — while keepers of toll gates were slammed as “licensed highwaymen” — and were abolished in 1877.