Road once took its toll on travellers

The Portobello Rd toll gate near Macandrew Bay in the 1890s. PHOTO: OTAGO PENINSULA MUSEUM

A “prohibitive” toll once paid by commuters in Portobello Rd was an “unpopular” piece of the Otago Peninsula’s transport history.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope said west of a historic horse trough recently uncovered in Macandrew Bay was the site of the former Portobello Rd toll gate.

The toll was introduced by the Portobello Road Board in 1888 to offset maintenance and development costs of the road.

“It was universally unpopular and prohibitive. Cyclists were charged 5 shillings for the round trip – a significant sum in that period.”

Peninsula residents petitioned Prime Minister Richard Seddon in 1891 to get the toll reduced.

By 1896, the toll for cyclists was reduced to sixpence on Sundays .

By May 1903 the cycling toll was reduced to sixpence return and in 1904 it was set at threepence. In 1907 the first automobile on Portobello Rd “caused a sensation”.

Motor cars were banned by bylaw until a local referendum was held in 1913 to allow them on the road.

Karen Jenkins, of Milton, said she was related to the Hinkley family. who ran the toll gate for the road board.

“The site of the last toll gate on the road was on the straight just north of Stoneleigh, and was possibly the last toll gate of its kind in the country.

“For many years the toll had been quite controversial and this probably led to its closure in 1908.”

Fred and Mary Hinkley and their four daughters lived at and operated the toll gate for about the last seven years until its closure.

Mr Hinkley was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the road from the toll gate to the Andersons Bay bridge.

The “cosy toll house had three rooms and was built over the water, similar to a boat shed.

Mrs Hinkley sold refreshments at the toll house, including biscuits and soft drinks.

The toll house building was put up for tender in September 1908, the winner dismantling the building the following month and moving it to a property on the corner of Marion St and Marine Parade in Macandrew Bay.