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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 March Newsletter now available

Newsletter 158, published at the end of March, 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 now appears in a different format. The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced by three downloadable pdf files. 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 27 April 2019

Getting About

The 2019 ALHA Local History Day will be held on Saturday 27 April in the Severnside Suite at Thornbury Leisure Centre. The theme is Getting About, and deals with various aspects of the history of transport in our area. How people moved both themselves and their goods has left many traces, and has shaped where and how we live and the environments we live in. The Roman military occupation brought paved roads, not only the fosseway. They were not much improved on until the turnpikes of the 18th century, by which time canals had arrived, followed by railways, and later by motorways. Meanwhile huge quantities of goods were shifted by ship, and Bristol became an international port, with consequences for local traffic. Coal gave rise to mineral tramways, including the dramway linking south Gloucestershire’s coalfield with the Avon. Some railways were very local and specialised, eg at Clifton, some unorthodox. In the 19th century when the population grew, the Victorians had to work out how to cope with congestion, and reshaped our cities.

ALHA has accepted proposals from speakers to represent different modes of transport and different parts of our area.  They include Bev Knott on Roman roads, military and non-military, in Avon, especially north Somerset; Dr Jonathan Harlow on traffic through the port of Bristol in the later 17th century and its consequences; David Hardwick on the dramway; Professor Peter Malpass on getting around in Victorian Bristol and the knock-on effects of the solutions; and Maggie Shapland on the Clifton Rocks railway.

You can see further details and download a booking form by clicking here. If you prefer to book online and pay by card, please go to Eventbrite.

Thornbury Leisure Centre is a new venue for ALHA, but it has ample free parking, an on-site cafe, and is close to the bus stop with regular services to various parts of Bristol. You could even extend your visit with time in the pool or in the gym.

Schools, Readers and Writers in Medieval Bristol ALHA BOOKS.pdf

by Nicholas Orme

Bristol was one of England’s leading centres of education and literary culture by the end of the Middle Ages, with schools at several levels. Books were owned and used by clergy, laymen and women, and the city had its own authors, producing works on topics as various as history, topography, civic affairs, alchemy, and poetry.

Nicholas Orme is emeritus professor of history at Exeter University, and the author of numerous studies of religious, social and cultural history in medieval and early modern England, including Medieval Children (2001), Medieval Schools (2006) and ALHA No. 23 The Kalendars.

This latest ALHA publication costs £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p).

Click on the picture for an order form.

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. 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.

Know Your Place - West of England - now includes Devon

Know Your Place has now been extended to include Devon in addition to the whole of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath & North-east Somerset, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire Council areas. The site has historic and current maps together with illustrations and much other local history information. New maps are continually being added, so it is worth checking back. The website is at www.kypwest.org.uk.

UWE Regional History Centre Seminars at “M” Shed

The UWE Regional History Centre have again arranged a programme of seminars at “M” Shed from September 2018 to June 2019. All are listed in our events diary, but for more information use this link. The Regional Historian is a journal published by the Regional History and the latest issue is reviewed in ALHA Newsletter 156. You can subscribe by joining the Regional History Centre as an Associate Member.

Bath Historical Directories

Members of the History of Bath Research Group have digitised Bath historical directories from the 1840s to the 1930s, and the data is now available on a website at http://bathhistoricaldirectories.org.uk/. This useful research tool for those who wish to explore Bath's people, places, organisations and occupations has been done in association with Bath Record Office, the University of Leicester, and Archive CD Books.

Pensford and the Great Flood of 1968

A new book published by Pensford Local History Society is called "We remember it well: stories of the Great Flood of 1968 from Pensford, Publow and Woollard". The title says it all, and the contents are structured around the 30 or so stories of people who were affected and/or involved in the devastating flood. Alongside these stories are photographs, letters and poems. The editors have tried to honour the memories of the contributors, and this has influenced the whole publishing process.

The A4 book, priced £5.00, was launched at Pensford Christmas Fair. It can be bought at at Pensford Post Office and at the Miners' Coffee Shop. Anyone who would like to make an enquiry or might be interested in buying a copy but is unable to get to Pensford please email: ppw.publishing@gmail.com

Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference - Saturday 6 April

The 2019 South Wales and West of England Regional Industrial Archaeology will be hosted by the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society. It will take place on Saturday 6 April 2019 at Saltford Hall, Wedmore Road, Saltford BS31 3BY, registration opening at 9.15am.

The cost of attendance is £20 per delegate, to include lunch and hot drinks. Speakers include Geoff Wallis of the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust: ‘In Circles: Restoration Work on Brunel’s Swivel Bridge at the Bristol Docks’; Eric Lyons, of Risca Industrial History Museum : ‘The Black Vein Explosion of 1860 and the Miners’ Graveyard’, and Bias member Eric Miles of the Avon Valley Railway: ‘Sentinel - The Rise and Restoration of a steam shunter from Keynsham’s Somerdale Works.’


Delegates have the option of concluding the day with a visit, either to Saltford Brass Mill (subject to weather; numbers limited); Kingswood Museum, for which there will be a small admission charge; the Avon Valley Railway, or industrial Keynsham (a walking tour led by Mike Bone.)


Full details of the day’s schedule can be found on the B-I-A-S website. 

Family Tree Live - Saturday 27 April 2019

Bristol & Avon Family History Society have organised a coach trip to this event, which takes place at Alexandra Palace, London. There will be lectures, displays and workshops and the opportunity to speak to experts about your own research dilemmas. Information about the event are available here, and details of the coach trip are on this flyer.

Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience - 27-28 April

This year-long project organised by the Everyday Lives in War Centre at the University of Hertfordshire culminates in a National Festival at Bristol. The project looks at “hidden” of lesser-known stories of the First World War, legacy, peace-building & alienation from commemoration. The Festival Hub is at M Shed, but there are events in other parts of Bristol. Full details can be found here.

Quaker Family History One Day Meeting - Saturday 11 May

The Quaker Family History Society are holding a Spring One Day Regional Meeting at Redland Quaker Meeting Room, Bristol, with six guest speakers. Further details can be found here.

Histories of Women in Agriculture and Rural Life - Saturday 29 June, Bristol

This 26th annual conference of the West of England & South Wales Women’s History Network will look at various aspects of the topic and has issued a call for papers. The keynote speaker will be Professor Nicola Verdon, author of Rural Women Workers in 19th century England. Further details can be found here.

Redcliffe Quarter Archaeology

Oxford and Cotswold Archaeology (OCA), with developer Redcliff MCC LLP, are currently working on a site at Redcliff and St Thomas Street, Bristol. The excavations form part of the Redcliff Quarter Development, a major regeneration scheme in this area.

To learn more about the excavations, you can attend the Redcliff Quarter Lecture Series, or come along to the Site Open Days or Pop-Up Exhibition. Further details can be found here.

Recent Work in Welsh Landscape History

A one-day conference organised by the Cambrian Archaeological Association and the Society for Landscape Studies will be held at St Fagan’s, Cardiff on Saturday 19 October. Further details and a booking form can be found here.


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.

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. Congratulations to Bristol Archives for meeting national standards on maintenance and access and receiving accreditation from the Archives Services Accreditation panel. Congratulations too to Allie Dillon on her appointment as City Archivist.

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.

Kingsweston House, Summer 2018

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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 Kingsweston House is by the webmaster.

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

This website was last updated on Friday, April 5, 2019. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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