It must have been like one of those times you go to the dentist and ask for a loose crown (that’s a false tooth for those who haven’t got them, not the thing on a king’s head) to be removed, only to discover it’s not as insecure as you thought.

When he wedges his foot against your jaw to get better purchase, you rather wish you hadn’t bothered.

Which is probably what the citizens of Worcester felt back in the 1770s when someone suggested replacing the old stone bridge across the River Severn because it was beginning to look a bit weary. After all, it had been there since 1313 and considerable remedial works had been needed over the centuries to keep it intact.

But just like the wobbly tooth, the old bridge was fixed firmer than anyone imagined. It crossed the river a few hundred yards upstream from the present one, running from the bottom of Newport Street to Tybridge Street and consisted of six arches resting on piers. Upon the middle pier was a gate-house.

No-one could say the experts hadn’t been warned, for in 1540 a visitor to the city described it as “a royal piece of work, high and strong and having a goodly square tower over it”. While in 1642 a passing Civil War soldier wrote that Worcester’s bridge was “as strong as London Bridge with a portcullis”. So even a layman might deduce it wasn’t going to submit without a fight.

True, the gateway and the tower had been removed in 1702 to lessen the weight, but 80 years later when demolition was eventually ordered, the old stone bridge still stood four-square, like a blooded prize fighter refusing to give in.

The piers were found to be “so strong as to be capable of bearing any weight” and the report of its demise added that demolition was only achieved “with the utmost difficulty”. Possibly gunpower had something to do with it.

The driving force behind the new bridge – to run from Bridge Street to New Road - was the Earl of Coventry of Croome Court and he laid the foundation stone in July 1771.

However, with a depressingly familiar ring to it, the build took much longer than scheduled and came in way over budget. It eventually cost £23,480, five times the original estimate and took ten years to complete. The designer was John Gwynn, one of the top names of the day.

Gwynn’s bridge lasted for 150 years before it was widened from 24ft to 60ft and encased in new stonework in 1930, being kept open all the time. No-one ever again suggested knocking down Worcester Bridge.