Driving around London you rarely have to pay any tolls. Yes, we have Congestion Charge and newly-extended ULEZ, look up London toll roads and you won’t find a mention, but there is one place where you do have to pay a specific toll.
No, it’s not a bridge (the QE2 Bridge is outside the capital unless you’re talking to Sadiq Khan), it’s not a ferry (the Woolwich Ferry has always been free) and it isn’t (as yet) a tunnel. It’s College Road, a small road in Dulwich.
The Dulwich Estate has the freehold to a ribbon of land in southeast London between Denmark Hill and Crystal Palace.
The toll road dates back to 1789 and was built by John Morgan who went by the unlikely title of Lord of the Manor of Penge. He lived at the top of Sydenham Hill and wanted an access road north across Dulwich College fields, so they let him, but when the lease expired responsibility passed back to the Dulwich Estate.
They added a tollkeeper’s cottage alongside the gate (still there, now listed) and continued to levy charges even after London’s last turnpikes ceased operation, one of these unused toll booths is to be found next to the Spaniards Inn on the edge of Hampstead Heath.
A quaint octagonal tollbooth sits on its own little island in the centre of the road. Originally the tollkeeper would have taken the money at the window and then raised the barrier himself, but the current set-up is automatic, taking cash, cards, and with a nod to modernity Apple Pay.
Featured image: Toll Booth, College Road, Dulwich by Noel Foster (CC BY-SA 2.0)