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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

November Update now available

The end of November 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 The three website pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker have been replaced by three downloadable pdf files.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 Local History Day 27 April 2019

Getting About

The 2019 ALHA Local History Day will be held on Saturday 27 April in the Severnside Suite at Thornbury Leisure Centre. The theme is Getting About, and deals with various aspects of the history of transport in our area. How people moved both themselves and their goods has left many traces, and has shaped where and how we live and the environments we live in. The Roman military occupation brought paved roads, not only the fosseway. They were not much improved on until the turnpikes of the 18th century, by which time canals had arrived, followed by railways, and later by motorways. Meanwhile huge quantities of goods were shifted by ship, and Bristol became an international port, with consequences for local traffic. Coal gave rise to mineral tramways, including the dramway linking south Gloucestershire’s coalfield with the Avon. Some railways were very local and specialised, eg at Clifton, some unorthodox. In the 19th century when the population grew, the Victorians had to work out how to cope with congestion, and reshaped our cities.

ALHA has accepted proposals from speakers to represent different modes of transport and different parts of our area.  They include Bev Knott on Roman roads, military and non-military, in Avon, especially north Somerset; Dr Jonathan Harlow on traffic through the port of Bristol in the later 17th century and its consequences; David Hardwick on the dramway; Professor Peter Malpass on getting around in Victorian Bristol and the knock-on effects of the solutions; and Maggie Shapland on the Clifton Rocks railway.

You can see further details and download a booking form by clicking here. If you prefer to book online and pay by card, please go to Eventbrite.

Thornbury Leisure Centre is a new venue for ALHA, but it has ample free parking, an on-site cafe, and is close to the bus stop with regular services to various parts of Bristol. You could even extend your visit with time in the pool or in the gym.

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.

Know Your Place wins Historic England Angel Award

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.

We are pleased to announce that the Know Your Place project has been awarded th prize in the Best Heritage Research, Interpretation or Recording category. The project is the brainchild of Bristol City Council’s Principal Historic Environment Officer, Pete Insole. Know Your Place invites people to participate in managing heritage by sharing their stories. Community contributions enrich the historical archive and uncover history that would otherwise have stayed hidden.

Congratulations to Pete Insole on this award, and our thanks for his initiative and hard work, and that of all those involved. Details of the award, and the winners of the other categories, can be found at https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/angel-award-winners-2018/

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.

Pensford and the Great Flood of 1968

A new book published by Pensford Local History Society is called "We remember it well: stories of the Great Flood of 1968 from Pensford, Publow and Woollard". The title says it all, and the contents are structured around the 30 or so stories of people who were affected and/or involved in the devastating flood. Alongside these stories are photographs, letters and poems. The editors have tried to honour the memories of the contributors, and this has influenced the whole publishing process.

The A4 book, priced £5.00, was launched at Pensford Christmas Fair. It can be bought at at Pensford Post Office and at the Miners' Coffee Shop. Anyone who would like to make an enquiry or might be interested in buying a copy but is unable to get to Pensford please email: ppw.publishing@gmail.com

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 Saturday, December 29, 2018. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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