ALHA Avon Local History & Archaeology map18.jpg

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 end of July Update is now available and can be downloaded here.

Newsletter 155, covering the period June to September, is still available for download 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 The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced by three downloadable pdf files.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 Summer Walks 2018

Mike Hooper has again organised a series of walks to take advantage of those fine summer days, while offering an insight into the history of a specific area. One walk remains:

Sunday 12 August - afternoon visit to Old Portishead

Full details can be downloaded here.

Schools, Readers and Writers in Medieval Bristol, Medieval schools flyer.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.

The full price of this latest ALHA publication will be £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p), but it can be bought for only £2.85 plus 65p postage if you order before 15 September.

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.

ALHA Local History Day 2019 -

Getting About

The theme for ALHA’s 2019 local history day will be transport, broadly interpreted.

Our area, past and present, has been shaped by transport. By boats, because we have a coastline and navigable rivers that facilitated trade and communication: along the coast, up the Severn and its tributaries, to Ireland, Iceland, France, Spain, Portugal, America, the Caribbean, the Baltic. That led to seafaring, ships, including the SSGB, shipbuilding and its financing, and the wealth of many commercial families. Roads started with ridgeways and tracks, then roman roads, carriers’ routes, turnpikes, town streets, by-passes, motorways and their engineering. Canals carried stone, coal, agricultural produce, manufactured goods. Railways made links to London, Exeter, Gloucester, south Wales, the midlands and beyond. For centuries transport depended on the horse and all sorts of things connected with it, not least the agriculture that produced its fodder, and those who cleaned up behind it. It also depended on people, thousands of them, not just the likes of Macadam, Charles Dundas, IKB, William Taylor, Holman Fred Stephens, George White. There were builders of vehicles, carts, wagons, private and stage coaches (and their coaching inns), cars, lorries, aircraft, trams, buses, ambulances, fire engines, bikes (both sorts), balloons, many made locally. Transport generated architecture.  People travelled for trade and business, to see relations, to get to and from work and school, for leisure and for tourism. Transport dominated some areas: Filton, Patchway, Brislington, Temple Meads, St Philip’s, Lulsgate. In WW1 Shirehampton specialised. Who paid for it all? Who initiated the ideas? What did people think of the new forms of transport? What work did the employees do? How come trade unions and the domination of the T&GWU? There was a colour bar on the buses. What about modern developments? Buchanan’s Bath? Bristol’s inner and outer circuit roads? A Bristol metro? Guided transport? The Portishead branch? The Avon ring road? Anton Bantock Way?

ALHA’s events subcommittee invites proposals for talks or presentations on or connected with any aspect of the theme: maximum 500 words, please, to Peter Fleming (; Bob Lawrence (; or Bill Evans (

ALHA Local History Day, 21 April 2018

For the first time, we are making available the texts of the papers given by the six speakers. They can be downloaded here.

Trinity - Heart & Soul

Holy Trinity church in St Philips closed in 1977 after 150 years and has since been recreated as a multi-purpose venue now used for a variety of arts and community events. A celebratory programme of events is being organised for 2018, and details can be found here. In particular, a series of walks revealing the history of Trinity and Old Market and led by historian and writer Edson Burton will take place on 24 May and 12 June from 6 to 8, on 31 July from 2 to 4 and on 16 September from 12 to 2.

Pensford and Publow Walks

On Sunday 8th July, Pensford Local History Group launched 3 heritage walks booklets, coinciding with the village events marking the 50 years since the Great Flood. Through the winter a team has worked hard to produce these walks, with emphasis on local history. Walk 1, in and around the village of Pensford itself, covers very little distance and is packed with points of interest. Walks 2 and 3, circular to Stanton Drew and to Woollard, are more conventional walks.

The booklets are available in Pensford - the 3 pubs, the post office and the Miners' coffee shop. It is also available online via Pensford Parish Council website, to download as an app. which can then be used instead of a hardcopy.

Gloucester History Festival

The Festival runs from 1 to 16 September 2018, and features a host of talks,events and activities for both adults and children, with many well-known names taking part. Click for a copy of the programme.

Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust

A project to help secure the future of Winterbourne’s Medieval Barn has taken a major step forward thanks to a £936,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.

South Gloucestershire Council has been working with the Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust (WMBT) to develop a £1.76 million project that will conserve and refurbish the historic barn and its adjacent buildings.

Once the total is reached, the funding will be used to restore, refurbish and find new uses for the 14th Century Court Farm Barn and associated outbuildings, ensuring its long-term sustainability in the heart of the local community. A heritage education centre will also be created to demonstrate the history of the barn and its architecture as well as information about the local area. Overall, the complex would provide flexible spaces for a variety of community, educational and commercial uses.

The restoration and refurbishment will enable the Trust to offer many more events and activities throughout the year, including heritage and craft-themed events, craft workshops, guided tours, more musical and theatrical performances, and a brand new schools’ programme. There will be new rentable workshops for creating traditional crafts and more space will be available for public and commercial hire, income from which will enable the Barn to operate on a sustainable basis.

Further details on the Winterbourne Medieval Barn website.

County Bridge Stone, Keynsham

Further to ALHA member Keynsham & Saltford LHS’s appeal for contributions towards the cost of installing the County Bridge Stone in Keynsham park as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the flood of 1968, Richard Dyson writes: ‘I am pleased to be able to say that, following a last minute effort by the contractors, the County Bridge Stone has been positioned and the flood memorial completed for the opening ceremony, which was on 10 July.’ 

ALHA made a grant of £200 towards the project.


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.

Know Your Place - West of England - now includes Devon

Know Your Place is now being 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.  The website is at

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.

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

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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 Pensford is by the webmaster.

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

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

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