Immediately upon settlement, the people of Elizabeth Town (New Norfolk) were very much reliant on river transport. Supplies arrived via the River Derwent from Hobart Town on barges which returned to the main centre with local Derwent Valley produce for sale.
Even from the early days, there were settlements on either side of the river and punts and rowboats were used to move residents and visitors to where they needed to be. The government, seeing increased levels of development and cross-river traffic, introduced a ferry boat service. Eventually, the numbers of people using the ferry service increased to such a level that in 1834 a private company, the New Norfolk Bridge Company, commenced planning construction of what would be the first of four bridges to cross the Derwent at New Norfolk.
Construction work began in 1840, with foot traffic via the bridge enabled in 1841 and in January 1842 the first bridge for vehicular use was completed. With the vehicle-accessibility came a toll which was payable at the tollhouse.
Remnants of the original bridge can be seen from both sides of the river downstream from the present day bridge. The quaint, octagonal shaped, tollhouse collected payments from travellers until 1874. Since then it has been used for a variety of purposes.
Located near Fitzgerald Park, the original tollhouse has been retained and maintained and is regarded as an important historical feature of New Norfolk and the Derwent Valley having been officially declared as a historic site in 1961.