An article titled "East Lancashire loses a sarsaparilla master" appeared in a number of Lancashire neswpapers on 8th and 9th May.It can be read on-line in the May 8th edition of The Lancashire Telegraph.
The article deals with the forthcoming retirement of the present owner of R.Walsh & Co, a firm of herbalists and botanical brewers in existence since 1835, presently located in Blackburn market.There is a possibility the business will disappear although the present owner is hoping to sell it as a going business and says "It is busier than it's ever been,herbal remedies are becoming more and more popular".
The home brewerd sarsaparilla is sold at the stall a long standing fixture of Blackburn market. It is dispensed from an aluminium keg. There are,however,old photographs at the stall,which is located in the 3 day market,dating back to the days when the "sass" was served from traditional wooden casks.
The combined herbalist and botanical brewer is indeed very much a dying breed. In fact only last year Law's Herbal Supplies located in Gateshead,near Newcatle upon Tyne, closed due to redevelopment plans. This firm,which had been in thesame family for over 100 years, made a "pineapple punch" as well as the traditional sarsaparilla. I never had theopportunity to visit this shop, although I recall reading an article in the Daily Telegraph back in the mid 1970's which stated that at that time the shop was still partially lit by gaslight. A couple of years ago I found some quite nice photographs of the interior of the shop on 'flickr" the reference was http://www.flickr.com/photos/gazcook/146473686/in/photostream/
they may still be available.
[Edited to make the links clickable]