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ALHA is the umbrella group for local history and archaeology societies in Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

We help member societies by compiling an annual list of recommended speakers, and by publicising societies’ activities through our newsletter and website. We organise a local history study day each year, and our AGM is accompanied by a lecture with a distinguished speaker.

Each year we publish 3-4 compact but authoritative books on aspects of Avon local history, and each summer we organise a series of walks.

We have strong links with the Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England, and with the libraries, archives, museums and other organisations in our area.

We offer both Society and individual membership, and further details can be found here..

Click on About Us for how to contact ALHA

Click on Publications for information about our publishing programme, and how you can contribute to the written history of our area.

Click on Events for details of the meetings, walks and other activities organised by our member societies.

Click on Groups for links to our member societies, and details of what they do and how you can contact them.

Click on Archive for back copies of ALHA publications “Quest” and “Avon Past”.

News and Forthcoming Events

Latest Newsletter and Update

The January Newsletter, which covers the period January to April 2018 is now available for download. It contains no fake news, however hard you look. Sad!

Previous Newsletters, and monthly updates, are all available for download at the Archive section of the website.

Diary of Events

Following a software problem, our Diary of Events now appears in a different format. The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced with three downloadable pdf files with the same information. The files can be easily downloaded and printed, but unfortunately no longer include a clickable hyperlink to the website of the organising society. The three new files are:

Events arranged by date

Events arranged by name of society

Events arranged by name of speaker

Click on the file you want.

If your group is a member of ALHA and you would like to see events listed, please send them to the webmaster.

ALHA Local History Day 21 April 2018 -

Religion and Community, Conflict and Change

Religious beliefs and practices have influenced many aspects of our area’s past and present: the coming of Christianity; the reformation; the fierce conflicts of the seventeenth century; the rise of nonconformity; churches’ struggles to cope with the rising population in the nineteenth century; the subsequent decline of religious observances; the advent of other religions from abroad: Mormons from America, Sikhs and Muslims from the east. Religion has shaped government and politics, individual morality, defined and altered social status, altered the landscape and the streetscape.

We hope to look - selectively, because the topic is vast -at the origins and early years of a church in medieval Bristol; the local shattering of the Church of England in the seventeenth century; how Wesley’s ideas influenced later moral values including human rights; the Catholic emancipation of the 1820s and 1830s; local mission churches in the nineteenth century; how religious observances and building affected a Bristol Victorian suburb; and how the Mormons came to Bristol and grew.

The Local History Day will be held at the University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus. Tickets cost £15 (£10 concessions and members of ALHA member societies) and further information can be found on the booking form.

You can also book online and pay by card at Eventbrite.

The Victorian model farm in

south Gloucestershire and north Somerset

From 1850 to 1880, British agriculturists responded to the repeal of the Corn Laws by enlisting the modern advances in chemistry and industrial organisation and steam power.  Prince Albert may have led the way, but several in the Avon region were also setting an example. The new approach had little time to settle before British agriculture was hit by imports steamed in across the oceans, but it left its mark, as much perhaps as had the enclosures of an earlier age. Here William Evans tells how the story played out in these parts.

This latest book in the ALHA series will be launched in the spring at the usual price of £3.50. But before that you have the opportunity to order it at the special price of £2.95  including p&p, using this order form. Orders must be placed before February 15 2018.

South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group - change to meeting

The venue for the talk by Jonathan Maisey on Windrush Quarry has been changed. It will now be held at the Cricket Club, Serridge Lane, Coalpit Heath, BS36 2TT on Wednesday 10 January at 7.30 for 8 p.m.

Egyptian Hieroglyphs - Two day course with Dr Bill Manley

The course will be held over the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 February at Bristol Grammar School. Bill Manley is an Egyptologist, museum curator and author. Click for further details.

Keynsham Great Flood of 1968

Yhe year 2018 sees the 50th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1968.   This event is etched indelibly on the memories of everyone who lived in the Chew Valley and much of the Bristol area at the time.  It brought tragedy and misery, but also many examples of heroism and selflessness.  Much has been written about the Flood and at previous anniversaries exhibitions and dramatic productions have been staged to commemorate it.  

Yet, apart from one flood level marker, Keynsham has no physical reminder of that night, and no memorial to those who died when their car was swept off the Chew Bridge in the town centre.

Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society hopes to re-erect the County Stone which once stood on the bridge. Click here to read about their plans, and learn how you can help.


ALHA offers grants to assist local history research, publications, events, conservation and other projects which accord with its charitable objectives. The Committee has wide discretion over the kind of work to be assisted and the terms of the assistance. Recent grants include one to support the publication of volumes of the Victoria County History to cover parts of Gloucestershire.

Details of the conditions and how to apply can be had from the Treasurer.

South West Foundation Small Grant Programme

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has just notified us that it is running the seventh Year of its small grant programme in the South West Region, through South West Foundation. The small grant programme is for grants up to £1,000. The grant programme is specifically aimed at small charitable community groups with an annual turnover of less than £25,000. You do not need to be a registered charity. 80% of the organisations that are funded through this programme are not registered in any way.

The programme gives priority to small groups in rural areas, market and coastal towns but also considers applications from under-represented groups in the more urban areas.


For more information and an application form please contact Jan or Jill at South West Foundation on 01373 813088 or email on info@southwestfoundation.org.uk.

The grant criteria are precise, and can be downloaded here.

Coach trip to The National Archives - Saturday 17 February 2018

Bristol & Avon Family History Society are organising a coach trip to The National Archives at Kew on Saturday 17 February. Pick-up points are Chipping Sodbury Car Park and BAWA, Southmead Road, Bristol. Click here for further details.

Destruction of Jacobean Ceiling in Small Street, Bristol

Readers’ reactions to reports of the destruction of a Jacobean plaster ceiling at 15 Small Street, Bristol, will range from indifference to rage. Many will feel sadness, annoyance or anger, or all three. To read more about what has happened, and what might be done to prevent future similar occurrences, please read the article in our latest newsletter.

We understand that, following a public campaign, Heritage England have now listed the chapel at the original Bristol Royal Infirmary building. Bristol City Council have also rejected a planning application to convert the buiding into student flats.

UWE Regional History Centre - Programme of Seminars at M Shed

The programme for 2017-8 is now available and can be found here. Seminars are held on Thursday evenings at M Shed, Princes Road, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 4RN. Admission is free. The range of subjects is wide, and this series includes women’s lives in Tudor England, Brunel’s first steamship and popular music in nineteenth century Bristol.

Know Your Place - West of England - Now Complete

The final phase of the expansion of Know Your Place has now been completed and coverage has been extended to the whole of the historic County of Somerset. Historic maps of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath & North-east Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Council areas are all now available online, together with illustrations and much other local history information.  The website is at www.kypwest.org.uk.

Wilkins of Westbury & Redland

This ALHA publication was launched on Saturday 22 April 2018 at our Local History Day at UWE. Written by Professor Richard Coates, it is a study of Rev. Henry John Wilkins who was a progressive force in local politics before entering the great tradition of English parsons who have been active local historians.

Full details of all ALHA books and an order form are on our Publications page.

You can also now buy ALHA publications online, and pay by card, through GENfair.

Bristol Archives

This is the new name for Bristol Record Office, and it now has a new logo. Click the logo for the Bristol Archives website.

What’s On at Bristol Museums & Archives

Click for details of the exhibitions, tours, walks and other activities taking place in Bristol in future weeks and months.

Heritage events in Bath

Click for details of the exhibitions, tours, and talks taking place in Bath.

Crossing the river at Pensford. The ALHA Summer Walk, July 4 2016

Follow ALHA on Facebook


The photo of Chipping Sodbury market was found on the Facebook page entitled Chipping Sodbury Photographs. The photo of Stanton Drew Stone Circle is by Michael Day and is taken from flickr. The photo of the Netham Lock in Bristol was taken by the webmaster. Click on each photo to see a full-screen image.

The photo of Pensford is by the webmaster.

Avon Local History and Archaeology is a Registered Charity. No. 270930

This website was last updated on Sunday, January 7, 2018. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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