JIGGLE the old vinegar bottle and swish the salt shaker.

Because we're going on a sentimental trip back in time to an era when you could buy a split of chips and peas, together with a battered cod, for about one and a tanner, or 7p in today's money. Memories have gone whooshing back to those golden days - long before chips 'n' fish became almost a luxury dish - prompted by a letter from Su Barton of Eccleston.

She's a descendant of the Blaylock business family whose chief claim to fame, in my book at least, was in owning a chippie in Ormskirk Street, just off St Helens town centre.

One of my happiest boyhood memories is of being taken there by my mother, as a shopping day treat, and sitting inside while tucking into a delicious plateful, sizzling hot from the boilers.

Funny, isn't it, that chips and fish don't seem to taste nearly so good as in decades gone by? Could it have had summat to do with the lard and beef dripping they were cooked in before folk became so 'health-conscious'?

Or, there again, perhaps the passage of time and the constant mulling over happy childhood memories tend to deceive the old tastebuds . . .

Su, from Brooklands Road, takes a lively interest in researching her family tree and she provides the following memory-jerking details, together with a picture of the Blaylock family's other landmark business, their credit draper's shop which stood in Napier Street.

Su believes that many customers of this cobwebby column will have clear memories of the two Blaylock shops, initially run by two brothers - the sons of glassworker William Blaylock who settled in St Helens during 1858 after marrying a local girl, Margaret Cross, from Eccleston Lane.

Robert Blaylock ran the chippie with wife Sarah. "I believe," adds Su, "that their son, John, later inherited the shop until he died in 1965." In that year, the shutters were put up for the last time. "His brother, John (my great-grandfather) married Sarah Lea whose family had a grocer's shop off Boundary Road, St Helens."

Sarah, who sewed aprons for a living, opened the Napier Street drapery shop in 1893. It stood close to Heathcote's the butchers, which will also be clearly recalled by many veteran readers brought up in that terraced pocket of St Helens before it was flattened and revamped.

This represented the great age of the corner shop.

"As a child," writes Su, "I can remember being sent on errands to Aggie Walls for a 'twinnie' and a quarter of brawn."

And she continues her happy saunter down memory lane by recalling: "I was also given threepence to call at Nevitts for a bag of winter nips and a couple of flying saucers.

"On Friday, we would be treated to ice-cream. Grandma would give us a bowl and we'd run down to Frederick's ice-cream parlour in Peter Street for four scoops straight from the big fridges."

Su goes on: "Sarah Lea Blaylock eventually passed on her business to her daughters - Auntie Polly Thompson and Auntie Maggie Mercer - and it later became E & I Blaylock when my mother, Irene, and grandmother, Edith, took over from them."

It expanded into additional lines for the ladies. "The old fashioned corsets and panty-hose are still laughed over in our house. They looked very different to the the glamorous Marks & Spencer underwear of today!"

Then, in 1974 the bulldozers closed in on Napier Street to carry out a slum clearance scheme.

"We may wonder whether this was really necessary," Su ventures, "and whether the community would have been better served by refurbishment."

In any case, the Blaylock business was forced to move into fresh premises but continued to thrive until Irene retired in 1990 to help look after her grandchildren.

Two years later, grandmother Edith died at her home in Lingholme Road - the last Blaylock to live in St Helens.

Su adds: "I am researching Aldred, Blaylock, Lea, Wainwright, Fairhurst and Groves family links locally, and would appreciate any contact from others researching the same names."

ANYONE able to assist could give Su a ring on St Helens 613899.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.