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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

Latest Newsletter and Update

The end of October 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 The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced by three downloadable pdf files.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.

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.

The full price of this latest ALHA publication will be £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.

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 (Peter.Fleming@uwe.ac.uk); Bob Lawrence (lawrence.chartley@btinternet.com); or Bill Evans (wm.evans@btopenworld.com).

Historic England Angel Awards

The Historic England Angel Awards celebrate the efforts of people taking action to champion their local heritage. The awards were founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber and are co-funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

One of the finalists this year is Pete Insole, Bristol City Council’s Principal Historic Environment Officer, for his conception and development of Know Your Place. Pete has been nominated in the category of Best Heritage Research, Interpretation or Recording.  

If you have used and enjoyed Know Your Place and would like to vote for Pete Insole, go to https://historicengland.org.uk/get-involved/angel-awards/.

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.  The website is at www.kypwest.org.uk.

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.

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.

Aerospace Bristol - Autumn Programme

Aerospace Bristol has a programme of talks and events taking place this autumn. Click for the full programme.

A Life in Local Business - with John Lyons

John Lyons has lived and worked all his life in Blagdon following in both parents’ footsteps as a butcher and shopkeeper.  Using his family's memories and considerable photographic record, he will bring to life their days in business and the people they lived among.

This meeting of Blagdon Local History Society is on Thursday 15 November at 2.30 at Blagdon Village Club. Members free – visitors £2.50 including refreshments.

Click for a flyer.

I do like to be beside the seaside

Out and about in Bristol 1914-1918 -Excavating the forgotten history behind Bristol’s war effort.

John Penny will investigate (among other things) the buildings involved in wartime manufacturing in the city and the crucial contribution which the civilian workforce (much of it female) made during the First World War.

This meeting of The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society is in the Apostle Room at Clifton Cathedral, Pembroke Road, Clifton, BS8 3BX at 7.45 on Monday 26 November. Cost: £1. Students free. Click for a flyer.

Coach Trip to National Archives, Kew - Thursday 7 March 2019

Bristol & Avon Family History Society have organised a coach trip to The National Archives. Details on the flyer. Note there is a discount if you book before 1 January 2019.

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. Details on the flyer.

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.


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 Wednesday, November 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