The Ha’penny Bridge, known later on for a time as the Penny Ha’penny Bridge, and formally the Liffey Bridge, is a pedestrian bridge built in May 1816 over the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland. Made of cast iron, the bridge was cast in Shropshire, England.
Originally called the Wellington Bridge (after the Dublin-born Duke of Wellington), the name of the bridge altered to Liffey Bridge. The Liffey Bridge stays the bridge’s official name to this day, although it is most frequently referred to as the Ha’penny Bridge.
Before the Ha’penny Bridge was developed there were 7 ferries, run by a William Walsh, across the Liffey. The ferries remained in a bad condition and Walsh was notified that he needed to either fix them or construct a bridge. Walsh selected the latter choice and was granted the right to draw out a ha’penny toll from anyone crossing it for 100 years.
Initially the toll charge was based not on the expense of building and construction, but to match the charges imposed by the ferries it replaced. A further condition of building was that, if the residents of Dublin discovered the bridge and toll to be “objectionable” within its first year of operation, it was to be eliminated at no charge to the city.
The toll was increased for a time to a penny-ha’penny (1 1/2 pence), but was eventually dropped in 1919. While the toll was in operation, there were gates at either end of the bridge.
The manufacture of the bridge was commissioned by the then Lord Mayor of Dublin, John Claudius Beresford with the Coalbrookdale Company of England. Using ore initially mined in County Leitrim’s Sliabh an Iarainn, the bridge’s cast iron ribs were made in 18 areas and then delivered to Dublin. The style and erection was monitored by John Windsor, one of the company’s foremen and a pattern-maker.
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