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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”.

Latest Newsletter

The Newsletter covering the period September to December is now available for download here.

ALHA AGM and Joseph Bettey Lecture

ALHA's 2017 annual general meeting and Joe Bettey lecture will be at the Friends' Meeting House, Beckspool Road, Frenchay on Wednesday 18 October 2017, starting at 7pm. The lecturer will be Professor Helen Meller, formerly professor of history at Nottingham University and author of Leisure and the changing city, 1870-1914, which in spite of its general title is about the Bristol area. Her lecture is titled How to live in the modern city: women's contribution in Bristol 1860s-1930s. ALHA is grateful to ALHA member Frenchay Tuckett Society for agreeing to host the event. Refreshments will be available from 6.30.

Click to download the agenda, the annual ALHA accounts, and a proposal to make changes to the Constitution. These will be available at the meeting, but you may like to read them in advance.

Destruction of Jacobean Ceiling in Small Street, Bristol

Readers’ reactions to reports of the destruction of a Jacobean plaster ceiling at 15 Small Street, Bristol, will range from indifference to rage. Many will feel sadness, annoyance or anger, or all three. To read more about what has happened, and what might be done to prevent future similar occurrences, please read the article in our latest newsletter.

ALHA Local History Day 2018 – Call for papers

The theme for next year’s local history day, probably again at UWE’s Frenchay campus, and probably on Saturday 14 or 21 April, will be around religion and change, broadly interpreted. We hope to look at how religious beliefs changed, how religious organisations changed within themselves, and how those changes affected local people at large. Our area is rich in religions and their impact: two abbeys of historical importance; a battleground of the reformation and of the religious ferments on the 17th century, which both had political consequences; a hotbed of nonconformity in the 18th century, with Moravians, Unitarians, Baptists, Quakers, Independents and Methodists prominent, and driving political and social reforms in the following century. Sects (Lady Huntingdon’s in Bath?) have come and gone. Religion declined in Victorian times, yet it was then that it was prominent in public life. Church buildings have dominated our towns and villages for centuries, but not all are still in use and the uses of some have changed. Wesley’s new room has been revamped, but Whitfield’s tabernacle is at risk. In the 20th century we have seen gurdwaras, mosques and other buildings to meet the needs of immigrant communities, while St Werburgh’s is used for climbing, St Paul’s for circus training, and St George’s for concerts. Highbury chapel, originally Congregationalist, became Anglican. Some chapels, in villages as well as towns, are now flats or houses. Topics could include the importance of religious beliefs and practices at various times; how they changed; and how they changed the lives of people, places, and politics.

ALHA invites proposals for talks, presentations and displays: max 500 words please to Bob Lawrence, Flat 1 Chartley, 22 The Avenue, Bristol BS9 1PE, lawrence.chartley@btinternet.com or William Evans, 5 Parrys Grove, Bristol BS9 1TT, 0117 968 4979, wm.evans@btopenworld.com


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.

Coach trip to The National Archives at Kew, Thursday 12 October

Organised by Bristol & Avon Family History Society, the trip is open to all. Pick ups are in Chipping Sodbury and at BAWA, Southmead Road, Bristol. Cost is £25. Full details are available here.

UWE Regional History Centre - Programme of Seminars at M Shed

The programme for 2017-8 is now available and can be found here. Seminars are held on Thursday evenings at M Shed, Princes Road, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 4RN. Admission is free. The range of subjects is wide, and this series includes women’s lives in Tudor England, Brunel’s first steamship and popular music in nineteenth century Bristol.

Talks at Holy Trinity Church at Westbury on Trym

Holy Trinity Parish Church at Westbury-on-Trym is celebrating its history this autumn with a programme of talks. Each will be held in the church at 7.30 p.m.. Speakers include Canon John Rogan, Jinx Newley, Canon Jon Cannon and Professor Richard Coates, author the recent ALHA publication about Rev Henry John Wilkins. Tickets cost £2 for each talk, light refreshments included. Tickets can be bought in advance. For further details, click here.

Refusing to Kill - Bristol’s First World War Conscientious Objectors

On Saturday September 9th an exhibition 'Refusing To Kill – Bristol's World War 1 Conscientious Objectors' opens in Bristol Cathedral on College Green. The exhibition runs until 8th January 2018 and is presented by Bristol's Remembering The Real World War 1 group. Over 300 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objectors for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles. Other spent much of the war in prison, often under harsh conditions.

A largely untold part of Bristol’s World War 1 history – this exhibition tells the stories of these men and the people in the city who supported them. Rarely seen documents will be displayed together with photographs, letters from COs and artefacts. There is a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RefusingtoKillBristolWW1COs/

Know Your Place - West of England - Now Complete

The final phase of the expansion of Know Your Place has now been completed and coverage has been extended to the whole of the historic County of Somerset. Historic maps of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath & North-east Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Council areas are all now available online, together with illustrations and much other local history information.  The website is at www.kypwest.org.uk.

Wilkins of Westbury & Redland

The latest ALHA publication was launched on Saturday 22 April at our Local History Day at UWE. Written by Professor Richard Coates, it is a study of Rev. Henry John Wilkins who was a progressive force in local politics before entering the great tradition of English parsons who have been active local historians.

Full details of all ALHA books and an order form are on our Publications page.

You can also now buy ALHA publications online, and pay by card, through GENfair.

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.

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

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 Pensford is by the webmaster.

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

This website was last updated on Sunday, September 24, 2017. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

News and Forthcoming Events

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