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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 August Update now available

The end of August 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 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 The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced by three downloadable pdf files.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 - AGM and Joseph Bettey Lecture

The ALHA Annual General Meeting and Joseph Bettey Lecture wil be held on Saturday afternoon, 6 October 2019, at St Michael’s Centre, North Road, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8PD. The AGM will be at 2 p.m., followed by refreshments. The Joseph Bettey Lecture follows at 3 p.m. and will be given by Dr. Madge Dresser, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, UWE, after many years as an Associate Professor in Social and Cultural British History. Her lecture is titled Landscapes of slavery - some new reflections on investigating Bristol and the wider Atlantic slave economy.

The Lecture is free of charge and open to all. Please click to download the notice of meeting, annual accounts, secretary’s report, and minutes of the 2018 AGM. These documents will be available at the meeting.

To help with catering, please register through Eventbrite, or by e-mailing the Webmaster or Ian Chard.

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

This latest ALHA publication was published on 15 September 2019 and costs £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p). Click for an order form.

Two More New ALHA Publications

Two new books will be published by ALHA on 6 October at our AGM, and as usual they can be ordered in advance at a reduced price. The two titles are:

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

The full price of each will be £3.50 (plus 65p for p & p). But only £2.85 plus 65p p&p for orders before 5 October 2019. Click for an order form.

Alan Clarke will be talking about his research at the UWE Seminar at “M” Shed on Thursday 19 September - See below for details.

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.

Revealing the secrets of Yatton’s past

An exclusive event showcasing the archaeology and finds from excavations at North End, Yatton. Experts from Wessex Archaeology and North Somerset Council's archaeologist will be on hand to discuss the archaeology uncovered during excavations in 2017 and 2018.

Friday 20 September, 3 - 6. Yatton Rugby Football Club, North End Road, Yatton, Bristol, Bristol, BS49 4AW. Free event, no booking required. Click for full details.

Bristol & Avon Family History Society - Family History Fair, Saturday 14 September at BAWA

The day will be an opportunity for anyone who needs help or advice on family history matters to have face-to-face sessions with local experts and representatives of Bristol & Avon Family History Society and other societies including Devon, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset & Dorset, Weston-super-Mare & District, and Wiltshire.  Over 30 exhibitors have signed up to attend.

Representatives from Bath and Bristol Archives will be on hand to give information and advice.  A number of local history societies and museums will also be attending to allow visitors to gather more information on the work and living conditions that their ancestors may have experienced. New and second-hand books, postcards, maps, family history CDs, software and accessories will be available from a range of commercial exhibitors.

Bristol & Avon FHS itself will be launching its new CD of transcriptions and indexes of Bristol Apprentices Books in Bristol Archives covering the period 1532 to 1724.

Visit the BAFHS website at www.bafhs.org.uk for full details, or click here.

UWE and “M” Shed - Autumn Seminar Programme

The first seminar in the 2019 will be on Thursday 19 September. The speaker is Alan Clarke, and his subject is Taking the Pledge: the Temperance Movement in Victorian and Edwardian Bristol. Alan Clarke is the author of the new ALHA publication on the same subject. Details of the series of seminars can be found here.

South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group - Open Mines Days

This September, ALHA member SGMRG are opening the coal mine sites at Oldwood Pits near Rangeworthy, Brandy Bottom, Pucklechurch, and Ram Hill near Coalpit Heath. Click for further details and dates.

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 the University of Cardiff (note change of venue) on Saturday 19 October. Click for further details and a booking form.


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 Sunday, September 15, 2019. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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