THIS set of photographs taken in the early 1960s shows just how much the Lich Street development later in the decade affected that area of Worcester near the cathedral.

Whether it would have been allowed in this day and age has long been a matter of some debate, coloured somewhat by the considerable funds that seem to be available now for restoration of our heritage.

Sadly that cash was not around then and there’s little doubt that a very large amount would have been needed to transform what was for the most part a slum district.

Unfortunately, the broad brush wrecking ball approach adopted meant that along with all the tumble down housing, some historical gems were lost.

As well as the wonderful Lych Gate, which was thought to be the only surviving one of its type in Europe, the music shop once owned by the Elgar family in High Street went too.

Considering the City Council also allowed the demolition of Sir Edward Elgar’s last home at Marl Bank, some would argue that Worcester didn’t do all that well by its favourite son.

The statue opposite the cathedral, splendid though it is, came a bit late.

While obviously no one around now could have personal memories of Sir Edward, there would be a whole swathe of people who can remember exactly what the Elgar music shop became.

Before the sledge hammers arrived it had been Sparks Music Shop, the go-to place for teenagers to buy records in Worcester in the late 50s/early 60s. Sure there was Wilsons at the bottom of Broad Street and to a lesser degree Austin’s in The Tything, but most made for Sparks.

There you could ask for up to three records and take them into a booth to listen to each one before you bought. Or didn’t, as the case may be. A system which passed many a school lunch hour.

I recall the first record I ever bought came from Sparks. It was a wax 78rpm of Little Richard singing Keep A Knocking on the Speciality label.

It cost six shillings and seven pence ha’penny and I must have driven my folks mad playing it on dad’s wind-up 1940s gramophone.

Sparks always seemed a more classical music shop, probably a leftover from its Elgar heritage, struggling to adapt to the growing teenage market and the raucous beat of rock ‘n’ roll.

Along with Sparks, many other little shops disappeared and there was much alteration to the Talbot Inn in College Street. In the early 60s only the entrance passageway faced the street, but as the road was widened and the kerbside properties demolished, the pub was revealed and in that respect the plan worked well.

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