Bath (toll roads & rus in urbe)


Geography Cat’s own human no.2 sent him this card, thank you Pete.

The top left photograph on the postcard shows Pulteney Bridge, this was built in 1774 and used to be a toll bridge. That means you had to pay to cross it.


Photo credit: Bath UK (


Toll roads, including bridges, charge for their use in order to make back the money that was spent to build them. When Pulteney Bridge was first planned the estimated cost was around £1000; by the time it was finished it had come in at £10 000, approximately £1.4million today.

There are still plenty of toll roads, bridges and tunnels around today. This link takes you to the official UK government site about the location and price of toll travel. Another way the government pay for roads, and their upkeep, is through road tax, paid by vehicle owners for each vehicle “on the road”.

However, there are now other schemes that charge road users, that have nothing to do with the cost of the road. The obvious example is the London Congestion Charge which a tax paid by vehicle owners for driving within a certain area of Inner London. This is one way of attempting to solve, or at least minimise, traffic issues in a large city. You can read more about the issue by reading this article by Geography Cat.

Top right on the postcard is a photograph of the Royal Crescent, also completed in 1774. Here’s Mike in front of this magnificent row of houses:


You’ll notice that the 30 houses of the Royal Crescent look out onto a grassy area, shown behind Mike. In front of Mike is a park, falling away over the hill:


andy welsher
Photo: Andy Welsher



bbc news
Photo: BBC News


Large green areas in front of residential properties are there partly to give the illusion of a more rural location wthin the urban scene. This is called “rus in urbe”. Creating, or allowing more green space within urban areas is recognised as an essential factor in sustainable urban living, something you can read more about here.


A capybara completing life in the greenery of Curitiba, Brazil (photo: Verge Magazine)


Geography Cat needs to come back to Bath and tell you more about the natural spring and why it is located here. Until then he’s standing on the bath mat and grooming himself dry.