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

End of March Newsletter now available.

The end of March Newsletter 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.

ALHA subscriptions now due

ALHA’s year starts 1 April. The government has not postponed it. We hope you will renew your membership. Subscription rates are as before; £3 for individuals by e-mail; £5 for individuals by post and for groups by e-mail; £7 for groups by post. Subscriptions forms can be downloaded here -

Subscription form for individuals

Subscription form for groups

If you can pay online to the bank, that saves you postage; saves the treasurer some work, as well as depriving him of the pleasure of queueing in (or outside) a bank; and may also help reduce virus contact. If you can pay by standing order – saves time, saves memory, saves work – that is even better: the treasurer can supply a form.

Diary of Events

In view of the current coronaviris crisis and consequent lockdown, all group meetings until the end of May have now been removed from the events diary. Meetings after May are still listed, but that may change as the situation develops further. Please check the website of individual groups for the latest information.

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.

All libraries and archives are now closed to visitors, but some may still be dealing with enquiries by post or e-mail.

If all these cancellations are getting you down, and you would like to create a little bit of the blitz spirit, listen to Vera Lynn singing “When the lights come on again” on You Tube.

Conflict in the West – war and the civilian population

ALHA Local History Day, Saturday 2 May 2020

In view of the coronavirus emergency, we have decided to cancel the ALHA Local History Day. We hope to hold the event at later date when the emergency is passed.

James Russell

ALHA has learned with great regret of the death on 2 March 2020 of James Russell, who was treasurer of Bristol & Avon Archaeological Society for 40 years and led that Society’s activities, often single-handed. Educated at Bristol Cathedral School, James Russell read archaeology at Bristol University under Keith Branigan and volunteered at Bristol City Museum under Leslie Grinsell. Employed by the Inland Revenue, he devoted his spare time to archaeology, being active in BARG, editing B&AAS’s journal and undertaking fieldwork, eg at Barrow Gurney and Stoke Park, Stoke Gifford. A full account, written by James Russell himself, is at


James’s funeral has been arranged for Wednesday 25 March at 2.15 pm at Canford Crematorium, Canford Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, Bristol BS9 3PQ.  Further details regarding donations will be made available at the funeral.  Due to coronavirus there will not be a get-together afterwards.  We shall organise a special “James Russell Day” to take place in the Autumn and further information will be provided in due course.

South Gloucestershire Museums Group wants a treasurer

South Gloucestershire Museums Group needs a Volunteer Treasurer. This person needs to be a member / volunteer with one of the S Glos Museums. I am sure anyone who is not already would be welcomed by any of these (Acton Court, Aerospace Bristol, Avon Valley Railway, Dyrham Park, Frenchay Village Museum, Kingswood Heritage Museum, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group, Thornbury & District Museum, Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust, Yate & District Heritage Centre).

The work normally involves fewer than 20 transactions per year (each of the eleven groups pay £5 sub), four meetings in a (normal ie non COVID) year, attendance at which is desirable but not essential, use of email, basic “in and out” financial transactions. You can download the full job description here. Other details are available from Roger Gosling at roger.gosling@blueyonder.co.uk . The closing date for applications is 17 April 2020.

Recent Publications from ALHA

As you sit in isolation with time hanging heavily, why not order some of the titles from ALHA and keep your interest in local history alive?

Resident Hospital Apothecaries in Georgian Bristol

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.

The Butlers and the Coal-Tar Distillery at Crew’s Hole

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.

The Surgeons and the Bristol School of Artists

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.

Taking the pledge: the Temperance Movement in Bristol, 1830 – 1914

Alan Clarke

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.

Each title costs £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p). Click for an order form.  You can also order and pay online from GENfair.  Further information about each title can be found at Publications.

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.

Festival of Archaeology 2020

The theme of this year’s Festival of Archaeology, which runs from 11 July to 26 July is Climate and Environment. Details are available here, and you can also go here to register an event that you are organising.

The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

The future BGAS programme can be found at www.bgas.org.uk. All meetings have now been postponed until further notice.

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 Trip to Royal Albert Bridge Saltash

ALHA member Warwick Hulme is organising a coach tour and guided visit to see Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash on 19 May. Cost will be about £30, and further details and contact information 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.

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 Friday, March 27, 2020. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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