EVERY Liverpudlian of a certain age seems to have a Beatles story but very few of them can claim to be responsible for a crucial part of the Fab Four's image.

Look at any early snapshot of the Beatles and you're bound to spot John Lennon wearing his distinctive leather cap as designed by Chester-based artist, fashion designer and friend of the band, Helen Anderson.

Now more than 50 years later, Helen is relaunching her famous creation hoping that the current vogue for men's headgear can ensure her hat is as popular as it was in the swinging sixties.

"I shared my story at a few talks, including one on John Lennon Day at Liverpool John Moores University last year," explains Helen. "I was struck by the number of requests I received for lookalike caps.The fact was the so-called 'baker boy' cap was suddenly everywhere: from Bella Hadid to Harry Styles, everybody was wearing them. Of course, I still like mine best. With its hand-braided leather trim and buttons, it’s an authentic, beautiful piece of craftsmanship."

Born in Liverpool in the 1940s, Helen drew and painted from the age of three and by the age of 12 was making her own clothes. She then went on to study at Liverpool College of Art which is where she first met the future Beatle.

"I met John in 1957, on my first day at the college," she remembers. "He ran into me in the corridor, asking 'Hey, are you that bird who painted Lonnie Donnegan?' John had seen me in the newspapers with Britain’s 'King of Skiffle', who had commissioned a full portrait in oils during the summer of 1957, when I was just 16 years old. I thought I was the bee’s knees!

"John and I struck up a friendship based on a mutual admiration for each other's artistic talent and we also laughed a lot, both together and at each other. He nicknamed me 'Helloon' because I laughed so uncontrollably at his antics.

"I sketched him often and bartered items for some of his hilarious drawings, from art school doodles to a Quarry Bank exercise book crammed with caricatures from his schooldays. John also went on to date and marry the lovely Cynthia Powell, who was my great friend from Junior Art School."

Helen them moved to Rome where she began to develop an exciting career as a portrait painter in Italy but as The Beatles began to take off, she was tempted back to the UK by her friends.

"It was Cynthia who tempted me back to Liverpool, where things were kicking off," she says. "Why don't you come back to Liverpool and sell all those fabulous leather and suede clothes you design for yourself? John and I will help you!" she promised.

"I took the bait, opening a couture leather and suede boutique in 1963 on Bold Street in Liverpool. I had been making bits and bobs for John since college but in 1964 I created a signature leather cap for him. It was the first of many."

Lennon's cap, along with the group's distinctive 'mop top' haircuts and smart suits, became a distinctive part of their look, inspiring many copyists as demand for Helen's designs went through the roof.

"John and Cynthia were among the first clients through my door," she says. "I’d already made small accessories for The Beatles like leather ties, during our art school time, as well as transforming John’s trousers into drainpipes.He was delighted with his cap and it never dated.”

"The cap was black leather, with quite a high crown and a visible stitching detail along the seams. This is the cap you see him wearing during the filming of Help!

"John was forever losing his caps. Often they were stolen by hysterical Beatles fans. I introduced the double plait across the top of the peak - fastened to a leather button either side - to create a signature piece for John.

"He was such a distinctive and unique character that it would never have occurred to me to make him a plain, run-of-the-mill hat. I've always liked to challenge myself!"

From then on, Helen became a successful fashion designer, creating twice-yearly collections from her design and production base in Lancashire.

Retail aficionados of Helen’s designs included specialist boutiques and high-end department stores, among them Harrods, Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s before a move to Chester saw another change in scenery.

"I'd always adored the beautiful city of Chester and its surrounding countryside and visited often," she says. "I had many friends who lived in the area, as well as loyal fashion customers who were to become good friends.

"When the time came to create a new home with my second husband in the late 1980s, a move to the south was definitely on the table. However, I convinced him - without too much difficulty - that Chester was the smarter buy. My husband took to Cheshire life like the proverbial duck to water and started a new business here - but staying in the North West made sense for my business too.

"We live in a beautiful spot in the countryside, a few miles south of Chester, with easy access to North Wales, where we love to go walking. We’re also both huge fans of the Lake District which we would’ve really missed out on, had we moved south. We particularly love our garden - where we have created a croquet lawn - and all the wildlife in it, from the hedgehogs to the ducks that waddle up to the back door for their tea.

"We enjoy going to concerts, theatre and the cinema, especially since Storyhouse opened, in Chester and we also go often to the Lowry, Theatre Clwyd and, of course, the theatres in Liverpool. We’re handy for Liverpool as well as Manchester airports and I honestly can’t think of a better place to live."

Despite settling for life in the country, Helen is dipping her toe back into the world of rock n roll by reproducing a limited edition of 150 caps which she sold at the recent Beatles convention in Liverpool and through her website.

"Now you can be on-trend and own a little piece of rock and roll history!" she laughs. "I hope John would have liked that."