While no-one seriously questions the need for the Charles Street bridge today, the case for it was very much debated back in 1916. There was no East Tamar Highway then, and traffic used Tamar Street bridge to link to George Town Road. A new bridge would thus only service the wharves, and there was already a ferry for that. Then there was the substantial cost, and the inability to remove silt from the North Esk after building a bridge, as a dredge wouldn't fit under the spans. A Royal Commission even looked at the idea and dismissed it. But when the state government agreed to provide the £6000 needed, it settled the argument. The bridge would be built by the Marine Board, though only in wood for that price. Council agreed to separately fund the approaches at a cost of £1350. Construction began in 1916, but was then held up by arguments about the necessary clearance above the high-water level. Even when completed, another argument began when council decided to call it 'King's Bridge'. They reasoned that, as it went to King's Wharf, it made sense. But the South Esk Bridge had been renamed King's Bridge in 1902, meaning it would have to change back again. Council stuck to its guns, causing decades of confusion. The Minister for Lands, JB Hayes, officially opened the bridge on February 4, 1918 before 500 spectators. Later, and perhaps apocryphally, it was said that in their eagerness to be the first carriage to cross, one spectator had accidentally dropped his reins on his horse, causing it to bolt and break through the ribbon prematurely. With decay over time, the structure generated another controversy. It and the Tamar Street bridge were the only large bridges in the state not under government responsibility, and the growing cost to council of repairs caused much local resentment. Finally it became unsafe for the heavy trams, and the government agreed to fund a modern concrete construction. On July 1, 1956 it was closed to traffic in preparation for a rebuild by the Marine Board for the Public Works Department at a cost of £120,000. The official opening was supposed to be July 29, 1957 by Eric Reece, then Minister for Lands and Works. He didn't want it available to traffic before then, but as it was ready three weeks earlier, council opened it to traffic. In annoyance, Reece cancelled the ceremony. The bridge workers then performed an unofficial opening, with a mock ceremony while playing Down by the Riverside over a PA system. A speaker apologised for building the bridge before time and under budget, and the "mare" of Inveresk on a draught horse cut a tape made of toilet paper. Shortly afterwards, council quietly changed the name back to Charles Street bridge.