WE may live in an increasingly digital world but vinyl is on the rise.

Sales of records in the UK are expected to exceed four million by the end of the year with some music fans shunning new ways of listening like Spotify and iTunes.

And the trend has caught on to such an extent that HMV is predicting that 2017 will be its biggest year for sales of vinyl albums since the late 1980s.

This is thanks in large part to new releases by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Liam and Noel Gallagher and Rag’n’Bone Man. That does not even account for the vibrant second hand market where the likes of Ste ‘Diddy’ Davidson showcase their lifelong passion, not just for music and vinyl but the whole culture around it.

“For me, it’s never gone away,” said the former Woolston High student who runs Lizard Inc Records in Legh Street.

“There’s always been a collector’s market for vinyl. It’s never diminished. But what’s happening now is say two years ago there were records I couldn’t get rid of, now they sell.

"People are either on a nostalgia trip or they want the big hitters. Online we sell collectible stuff but mainly through the shop it’s more run-of-the-mill stuff like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Blondie’s Parallel Lines and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

“They’re all great albums but they’re not big collectors’ albums so they’re not big money records.

“It’s more the lower end of the market that sells well with people who are just getting back into it.

“They’re either new to it so they want the classics or you get people coming in who have bought a record player again who want all the stuff they had when they were 18, 19 or 20.”

The most sought after vinyl that Ste has sold is The Singles’ punk record Adolf Hitler.

Ste added: “It was a self-financed white label record and we sold it to a guy in Oslo for £2,500.

“It was in a box that cost almost nothing. When we picked it out we didn’t know what it was. It was only when we did a bit of research that we found out that there are only six known copies in the world.

“I also recently heard about a demo of The Beatles’ Love Me Do sold for nearly £15,000. These hidden gems are out there.”

But Ste is also proud of the fact his shop is accessible to new collectors and those who do not have hundreds – or indeed thousands – to fork out on records.

He said: “Some people get a bit snobbish about it, like the Northern Soul fraternity for instance.

“They really frown upon reissues and think you should be playing the originals. But some records from the Northern Soul scene now cost £3,000.

"So if a young kid wants to play vinyl do they seriously think they’re going to wait for an original to turn up and pay £3,000 for it? My view is whether it’s a reissue or an original as long as people are buying records that’s the important thing.

“The shop really appeals to the young kids because they don’t see many shops that are like Lizard Inc. HMV is a great record shop but they’re getting the corporate experience. When they’re coming in here it’s more the Camden Town or Manchester’s Northern Quarter type shopping experience.

“Some of the young kids come in and don’t buy anything. I think they just like hanging out in the shop as they see it as a cool place. They come in and do selfies.”

Ste, who grew up in Padgate, has been a collector for almost all his life and now owns about 4,000 records. His first when he was just seven was The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – and he can still recite all the lyrics.

The former Christ Church CE Primary School pupil added: “As a young kid it’s like your putting your own pictures in your imagination to those words.

“I remember studying it. It was the first record with the lyrics on the sleeve. Once my uncle bought me that I think my life was pretty much planned out because it’s still one of my favourite LPs today.”

Then Ste started DJing when he was just 13. It was the year that punk hit and his favourites were Buzzcocks, The Sex Pistols and The Clash.

The 53-year-old said: “Punk was my first love as a musical movement so all my pocket money I spent on seven inch singles.

“I ended up having a good punk collection and I had two older friends, Robert and Brian Foden, who were both DJs.

“So when they did Woolston Leisure they asked me if I wanted to go along to do the punk spot.

“I then started doing the punk spot at all the youth spots. I became obsessed with collecting.”

Forty years on Ste is still enjoying it just as much. He DJs in Warrington almost every week.

Ste added: “I’ve never really broken onto any major circuits.

“I had opportunities when I was younger but I’m happy where I am. I’ve got no illusions of grandeur and no ambition to be any more than I am which is a jobbing bar DJ in Warrington.

“But don’t think by saying that I’m cheapening myself. When I’m at Hernando’s Hideaway when I get that place rocking it rocks.

“Nothing makes me buzz more than watching the reaction of a crowd in a bar when I play the right stuff.”

As for the shop, Ste set up Lizard Inc – named after his tendency to stick his tongue out when he goes clubbing – more than two years ago. He got the opportunity when Mike Wilkinson opened the real ale bar 9 Gallon. It included a space he wasn’t using – and that space now contains around 10,000 records.

Ste said: “My cogs started whirring and I thought maybe I could open a record shop.

“Mike’s been really good to me. He gave it to me at a price I could afford, I put loads of records in and the rest is history. We’re still here.”

Another thing that Ste loves about vinyl is how durable it is.

He added: “CDs were sold on a myth that they were indestructible. But once it starts to skip, it skips forever and they weren’t much to look at anyway.

"You put a scratch on a record and it’ll still play. I’ve got 60s vinyl and it looks like it’s been kicked around but you put it on and it plays.

"It’s not perfect, it sounds like you’re listening to it around the campfire as there’s a constant crackle in the background. But they’ll play and that’s the important thing.

“The enjoyment of vinyl is multifaceted. It’s not just the sound of it, it’s the inner sleeve, it’s the sleeve art and the sleeve notes and it looks cool. It’s the complete package.

"You’ll get kids who get into it and it’s a flash in the pan for them but for a small percentage of those kids it will become a lifelong obsession like it has been for me.

“There’s nothing like a vinyl record. Nothing comes close.”

And now Ste’s son Tom is following in his footsteps. He helps out at the shop and is also a DJ.

Ste said: “For me it’s a dream come true. He doesn’t DJ as much as he’d like to. He’s 23 and he’s doing other things but he’s a great selector. We chat about music but I’m his dad and he’s my son so everything I say is good he tells me is rubbish.

"But deep down I know we like a lot of the same stuff and he plays me some amazing stuff, especially the house music.”