Take a step back in time and visit Britain's only surviving original temperance bar.

FORMER welder Chris Law not only had a dramatic career change when he bought a small business in Rawtenstall six years ago - he took on the responsibility of keeping a tradition alive.

For Chris bought Fitzpatrick's, the country's last original temperance bar.

Fitzpatrick's began serving its own unique cordials to the folk of Rossendale in 1890.

Then, the worthy folk of the area would gather for a glass of sarsaparilla, dandelion and burdock or a steaming glass of black beer and raisin.

The Fitzpatricks came over to England from Ireland in the 19th century and quickly established themselves as leading figures in the Temperance Movement, which tried to get members to "sign the pledge" and renounce the demon drink.

From their heyday around the turn of the last century the number of temperance bars has dwindled and now only Fitzpatrick's remains.

Chris said: "I used to come in here as a kid. The Fitzpatricks ceased to own the business a while back but six years ago I knew the then owner who mentioned he was selling it. I was at a point in my life when I just knew that I had to take it on."

In buying Fitzpatrick's, Chris not only bought a unique piece of history but also became privy to secret recipes that have been handed down for generations.

"The exact recipes for the various cordials we serve are known only to those who have owned the business," he said.

"It is a great responsibility knowing that this is the last original temperance bar in the country. I just hope that I can keep the business going and that tradition alive."

The Fitzpatrick's were also great herbalists and, again, Chris is keeping their legacy alive, for as well as running the temperance bar he also sells traditional herbal remedies.

As you look around, your eye is caught by jars with mysterious labels, such as Valerian Root, Wormwood and Comfrey.

"Some are for culinary use and others for medicinal," said Chris. Visitors to the shop are often surprised to see that, although it may look like a museum piece, Chris also stocks all the very latest natural health products.

But it is its link with the past that is Fitzpatrick's greatest draw.

The original bar still stands in the corner and it from behind here that Chris serves the various "brews" which make Fitzpatrick famous.

"You can either have a cordial with sparkling spring water or with hot water," said Chris. "My favourites change but at the moment I like the lemon and ginger."

Although very little has changed in the 116 years Fitzpatrick's has been in business, one major alteration in the law caused a problem which was felt around the world.

"A couple of years ago one of the key ingredients in making sarsaparilla was banned because it was claimed it was carginogenic. The experts said that sassafras could give you cancer after 150 years and we had to stop using it.

"I've consulted my own experts who reckon that you would have to drink six pints of the stuff every day of your life from the age of six until you were 86 to stand even the slightest chance of this, but the rules came in anyway."

For several months Chris had to experiment to see if he could replace the now-banned ingredient.

"It is impossible to find an exact replacement and people who have been drinking sarasparilla for years can tell the difference, it doesn't quite taste the same."

But following on from the law change, Chris issued a challenge to sarsaparilla makers around the world to a blind tasting to see who produced the best cordial. The winner's trophy stands proudly in his shop window.

"It took us a while but we must have got it right eventually," he laughed.

"Originally the Fitzpatricks would make all their cordials in the back room of the shop in a bucket," said Chris.

Now he produces over 200 bottles a week from a separate unit in nearby Stacksteads, for sale in the shop, at farmers' markets around the region and via the internet.

Fitzpatrick's fame has spread worldwide and visitors from overseas can often be found in the bar.

"I think the strangest was a group of aboriginal dancers who travelled up from London just to see the place," said Chris.

"The temperance bar had featured in a programme on Australian TV and they decided that, as they were giving a performance in London, they would come up to have a look at it."

Then there was the morning Chris arrived to open up and found a troupe of morris dancers in all their regalia waiting for him.

"In the mid 1800s, the building was a pub called the One Too Many," said Chris.

"This gang of lads were trying to do a morris dance in every pub in the country so they moved all the tables out, put their swords on the floor and danced around for a bit."