THOSE silently, or maybe not so silently, cussing about the seemingly endless roadworks in St John’s, Worcester, the prospect of more in Hylton Road when Sabrina Bridge is renovated and the problems associated with widening the Southern Link Road, might care to reflect on the optimistic attitudes prevailing when the city streets faced a much greater upheaval in 1903.

The City Council had approved plans for the conversion of the old horse drawn tramway system to electric and it was not going to be an overnight job.

However, Berrow’s Worcester Journal looked on the bright side and reported: “The existing trams lines will be grubbed up bodily, and optimists think the whole scheme can be completed in quite a few months. Citizens hope their enthusiasm will inspire the workmen."

Whether it did nor not, the “few months” turned out to be nine months – from June 1903 to February 1904  - and with the city centre streets turned to rubble as the 3ft gauge horse tracks were relaid with a 3ft 6ins wide system with pylons for electric trams, the operation became dubbed the Worcester Tramway Siege.

Having said that, and bearing in mind the work was carried out by gangs of navvies with picks, shovels and sledges and not  a JCB in sight, progress was positively supersonic compared to the recent saga of the M5 Junction 6 at Warndon or the never ending efforts to widen about a quarter of a mile of the A38 between Martin Hussingtree and Droitwich.

Key thoroughfares like High Street, The Cross, Foregate Street, Broad Street, St Nicholas Street, Sidbury and Worcester Bridge were all transformed into frantic construction sites as virtually the whole of the city centre became a no-go area for traffic. Excluded were horse-drawn carts, carriages and wagons, ponies and traps, bicycles and the new-fangled mode of transport, the automobile.

The effect on trade, commerce and industry was severe and although 6ft high fences of cloth sheeting or timber were erected along the pavement edges of some of the main streets, there was obviously dust and noise everywhere.

In all, a new five-and-a-half mile network of tram lines was laid through the city centre and out along the main approach routes, such as New Road, Bath Road, London Road, Rainbow Hill, Shrub Hill and Barbourne. The horse tramway depot at St John's also had to been extensively altered to accommodate a fleet of electric tramcars.

The official launch of the new system, operated by the Worcester Electric Tramway Company, was on February 6, 1904, when the Mayor and Corporation took a ride from Worcester Bridge to Barbourne on the first tramcar. There were eventually 17 electric double-decker tramcars operating in the city in their Brunswick Green and Light Buff livery.

Sadly, the life of the electric tramways in Worcester was comparatively short, only 24 years. By the mid-1920s, they had become an "obstruction and nuisance" to the fast-expanding new mode of transport, the motor car. At the end of May, 1928, the trams ceased operating and made way for Midland Red's fleet of motor omnibuses.