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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 June newsletter now available.

The end of June newsletter is now available, and is packed with good and interesting reading. It 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 covid-19 crisis and consequent lockdown, all group meetings until the end of August have now been removed from the events diary. Meetings after August 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. Please also contact if you have events before the end of August that are still taking place.

All libraries and archives are now closed to visitors, but some may still be dealing with enquiries by post or e-mail. The libraries in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset are all making the Ancestry family history website available at home while the libraries are closed. All loans from those libraries have been extended. During the covid19 lockdown, The National Archives is making some of its downloads, publications, talks and exhibitions available free of charge online.

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.

Angus & Barbara Buchanan

The ALHA committee has heard with great sadness of the deaths, within two months of each other, of Angus and Brenda Buchanan of Bath. RAB helped found the Association for Industrial Archaeology and with Neil Cossons was a founding member of ALHA member Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society. They dedicated their The industrial archaeology of the Bristol region (David & Charles, 1969) to the members of BIAS, of which RAB was president from 1974 to 2015.   RAB contributed many articles on a variety of subjects to Bath History, which BJB edited for many years. BJB, an individual member of ALHA of long standing, was best known for her Gunpowder (Bath University Press, 1996) and Gunpowder, explosives and the state (Routledge, 2006), both of which drew on local research.

Oldbury Village History Group

The History Group for Oldbury on Severn has now reformed, and contact details are available here.

Festival of Archaeology 2020

The theme of this year’s Festival of Archaeology is Climate and Environment. The Festival of Archaeology will run in two parts - a digital Festival from 11-19 July and the main Festival activities from 24 October - 1 November. 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.


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 Monday, June 29, 2020. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

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