BACK in 1903 Worcester’s planners set out on a journey that destroyed an environment today’s conservationists would give their eye teeth for.

The loosening of the stays of Victorian England had barely begun before Worcester decided to embark on a major widening of High Street. This involved knocking down a line of tall, mostly medieval, shop buildings on the east side of the city’s main thoroughfare.

This was from a point near The Cross, opposite the old Cassidy’s clock, to about where TX Maxx now stands.

The demolition initially revealed what architectural gems these buildings were, exposing the centuries old beams and the wattle and daub construction. But unfortunately this cut no ice with the authorities, who were more interested in progress than preservation, and they pressed ahead, anxious to look to the future and create space for the long awaited arrival of the city’s electric tramway system. Which duely did arrive but lasted less than 25 years.

However the 1903 carnage was just the start of a series of blows to Worcester’s beating heart. In the 1920s there was another major widening of High Street, continuing the 1903 demolition on the east side along to roughly opposite today’s Crowngate Chapel Walk.

Then after the Second World War the exhaust fumes really hit the fan when it was decided to re-route the A38 – the main Leeds to Exeter trunk road no less – away from its original path through the city’s eastern suburbs to send it straight down the wider High Street, which became crammed with nose to tail vehicles, combustion engine fumes and parked cars.

All this led to the inevitable pedestrianisation of Worcester city centre in the 1980s, with traffic banned from the entire length of High Street to create a relatively peaceful shopping zone.

Which caused my journalistic guru Mike Grundy to accurately observe: “Ironic isn’t it how things go full circle. How much more intimate High Street would be today had it retained its original width and with those imposing medieval shop buildings lining the east side.”

As Cher once sang, if you could turn back time.