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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

End of January e-update now available

The end of January e-update is now available, and can be downloaded here.

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

Diary of Events

The ALHA Diary of Events is available as three separate pdf files showing the diary by date, society and speaker. The files can be easily downloaded and printed, but no longer include a clickable hyperlink to the website of the organising society. The three 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.

Bristol Archives - Access problems

Cumberland Road, which runs along the north side of the Cut, is currently closed to vehicles because the river bank has collapsed. This means that the M2 Metrobus has been diverted along Coronation Road and does not currently serve the stops near Bristol Archives. Please check your route before you leave home, and look out for news updates.

New Publication


Resident Hospital Apothecaries in Georgian Bristol

By Michael Whitfield

For the first 120 years of Bristol’s hospitals, an Apothecary was their only full-time medical practitioner. Although Apothecary rated low in the medical hierarchy, many went on to become MD or to run very lucrative private practices. This is about the work they did, and the men who did it.

Michael Whitfield was senior lecturer in General Practice in the University of Bristol. In his retirement he has devoted himself to the history of medical practice in nineteenth-century Bristol, and is author of ALHA Books No 4 Dr Goodeve and Cook's Folly, No 9 The Bristol Microscopists, No 15 Homoeopathy in Bristol, No 26 Richard Smith: Bristol Surgeon and Medical Collector 1772-1843, and No 28 The Surgeons and the Bristol School of Artists; as well as co-author of No 19 Public Health in Victorian Bristol.

ALHA No. 31

This new title was published on 28th December and is now available at £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p, by using the order form. You can also order and pay online from GENfair.  

Three Recent Publications from ALHA

Each title costs £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p). Click for an order form.  You can also order and pay online from GENfair.  

The Butlers and the Coal-Tar Distillery at ALHA BOOKS.pdf

Crew’s Hole

by Brian Vincent and Raymond Holland

The Crew’s Hole coal-tar distillery was set up by Brunel in 1843 with young William Butler as manager. It became a family firm and remained so to 1970, while the Butlers became an important Bristol family. Here is their story.

Brian Vincent, PhD, Dsc, FRSC is emeritus professor and senior research fellow in chemistry at the University of Bristol. To date he has published more than 300 original research papers, review articles and books including ALHA titles (no.18) The Herapaths of Bristol and (no.21) Chemistry in Bristol into the Early Twentieth Century.

Raymond Holland, B.Sc., Vincent’s long-time colleague, was himself chief chemist and later production manager and deputy works manager at the Butler firm. Sadly, Raymond died in January 2018; this book is dedicated to his memory.

ALHA No.29

The Surgeons and the Bristol

School of Artists, by Michael Whitfield

The cover pictures show portraits of John King as Surgeon with a skull, and as artist with sketch pad and brush. For he, like several other surgeons, was also a prolific artist, one of what has been called the Bristol School as it flourished in the period 1800 – 1840. Here Michael Whitfield (author of many other ALHA booklets) tells their story.

This book is shorter than our usual volumes, but it contains a dozen fine re-productions of the work discussed, on paper which does justice to their quality. So we believe that it is still very good value for money, even at the full price.

ALHA No 28

Taking the pledge: the Temperance

Movement in Bristol, 1830 – 1914,

by Alan Clarke

This picture of the Bedminster Temperance Hall and Free Library, built in 1853, well brings out the strong religious tone and affiliations of the temperance movement in Bristol.

Here Alan Clarke gives a fully documented account of the movement and the opposition to it – not only from the drinks industry. Although never quite achieving its aims, at the level of individual conviction or of national legislation, it spread temperance hotels and coffee houses all over the townscape – and remnants are still to be seen today.

ALHA No 30

Out of Print ALHA Publications

Because our print runs are short, ALHA publications can become unavailable quite quickly. Some of our publications are already out of print, while stocks of others are very limited. Others which were formerly unavailable have recently been reprinted. If you wish to order copies, please bear this in mind. Full details of availability can be seen on our Publications page and on the order form.

Getting About - 2019 Local History Day

If you were unable to get to the Local History Day, were unable to hear or see some of the talks, or just want to refresh your memory, the text of four of the five talks can be downloaded here.

UWE and “M” Shed - Autumn Seminar Programme

Change of Date

The February seminar will now be on Thursday 27 February when the speaker will be Dr Jessica Moody of the University of Bristol. Her title is “Slavery, Public History and the British Country House”. The date has been changed because of industrial action by University of Bristol Staff. Details of future seminars can be found here.

The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

John Stevens will be the speaker at the next Bristol meeting, and his topic is Bristol Politicds in the Age of Palmerston. The talk is at 7.45 on Monday 24 February 2020 at the Apostle Room, Clifton Cathedral, and details can be found here. The future BGAS programme can be found at www.bgas.org.uk.

Bristol Historical Association

Publications now available online

The local branch of the Historical Association was reformed in 2017, and has now joined ALHA. It offers an interesting and varied programme of talks and events. Details are in our Events calendar, and for more information you can access their website here. In its original formation, BHA published 120 pamphlets between 1960 and 2007 on various aspects of Bristol history. These have now been scanned and are available as downloads from the BHA website.

Coach Trips with Bristol & Avon Family History Society

On Thursday 26 March, there will be a coach to Kew for The National Archives and/or Kew Gardens. On Thursday 21 May, there will be a coach trip to Leicester to visit three Richard III sites. Each trip will cost £20. Further details are available here.

Searchlights over South Gloucestershire

‘Searchlights Over South Gloucestershire’ is a Twitter story created by Adrian Harris, Brassworks Theatre and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

It is a dramatic interpretation of real-life experiences gathered from oral histories, letters and diaries of people living in the area and during the Second World War and retold on twitter. It can be found on Twitter at @searchlights_sg and on the website at www.brassworkstheatre.com/searchlights_sg

If you use Twitter, please follow the story and share and spread the word amongst friends and colleagues. Also, have a look at the web site.


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.

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.

The ALHA Summer Walk at Thornbury, August 2019

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 the summer walk is by Jan Packer.

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

This website was last updated on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

Chipping Sodbury Market Day 2.jpg Stanton Drew.jpg Netham Lock.jpg