Since 2009, ALHA has published a series of small books on aspects of Avon history, which The Local Historian in July 2018 described as “superbly researched” We have now published 33 titles, and they are all listed below. Some are now out of print, but may still be available direct from the author, on Amazon, or as free downloadable pdf files.

Books are sold at Bristol Record Office and other outlets depending on local interest, all at £3.50 except Nos.10 & 20 which contain an A3 map and are £3.95. Books can also be ordered by post but please add 65p per title for postage. Below is a complete list of our publications.

For a printable order form, click on any of the book covers, or on one of the blue buttons.

To order books online, and pay by card, please go to our page on GENfair.

ALHA BOOKS.pdfThe Trade of Bristol in the Later Seventeenth Century

Jonathan Harlow

978 1 911592 33 4

After the Civil War, Bristol really began to trade with the Americas as well as expanding its traditional trade with Europe. As trade grew, so the merchant community and the city prospered. This booklet looks at the nature of the trade, at the port and shipping, at customs and smuggling, at seamen and, in some detail, at the merchants and their dealings.

Jonathan Harlow is a retired teacher still working on the history of the Bristol region. This booklet draws on his PhD thesis The life and times of Thomas Speed (University of the West of England, 2008) and The Ledger of Thomas Speed 1681-1690 (Bristol Record Society vol 63 1911). He has edited ALHA booklets since their inception in 2009, but this is the first he has written.

ALHA BOOKS.pdfSurgery in Eighteenth-Century Bristol

Michael Whitfield.

978 1 911592 32 0

This study sets sketches of half a dozen Bristol surgeons against the background of medical profession of the time. Technically surgeons ranked below physicians in status, but these men might enjoy great reputation as their apprentice lists and fees demonstrate. Nor was their work limited to surgical intervention; and the detailed and well-documented accounts of individual cases here enlarge our knowledge of the medical practice of the time.

ALHA BOOKS.pdfResident hospital apothecaries in Georgian Bristol

Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 31 0

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.

Michael Whitfield was senior lecturer in General Practice in the University of Bristol. In his retirement he has devoted himself to the history of medical practice in nineteenth-century Bristol, and is author of several ALHA Books.


ALHA BOOKS.pdfTaking the pledge: the temperance movement in Bristol,

1830 – 1914.

Alan Clarke

978 1 911592 30 3

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 BOOKS.pdfThe Butlers & the Coal Tar Distillery at Crew’s Hole

Brian Vincent and Raymond Holland

978 1 911592 29 7

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 BOOKS.pdfThe Surgeons and the Bristol School of Artists
Michael Whitfield
978 1 911592 28 0

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 BOOKS.pdfSchools, readers and writers in medieval Bristol
Nicholas Orme
978 1 911592 27 3

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.

ALHA BOOKS.docRichard Smith: Bristol surgeon and medical collector


Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 26 6

Richard Smith lived in one of the great ages of culture, learning and debate in Bristol. He was a contemporary and colleague of the great Thomas Beddoes. Robert Southey was his neighbour, and Humphry Davy and Samuel Coleridge lectured in his time. Smith himself was a very successful practising surgeon, a lecturer, a notable collector of medical records and statistics, a figure in civic affairs, a voice in the City Council and the press, a poet even. Here Michal Whitfield (author of Dr Goodeve, of The Bristol Microscopists and Homoeopathy in Bristol) tells the story of a lively, extrovert, but representative figure.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Victorian model farm in south Gloucestershire and

north Somerset

William Evans

978 1 911592 25 9

Now out of print, but can be downloaded free of charge as a pdf file by clicking here.

From 1850 to 1880, British agriculturists responded to the repeal of the Corn Laws by enlisting the modern advances in chemistry and industrial organisation and steam power.  Prince Albert may have led the way, but several in the Avon region were also setting an example. The new approach had little time to settle before British agriculture was hit by imports steamed in across the oceans, but it left its mark, as much perhaps as had the enclosures of an earlier age. Here William Evans tells how the story played out in these parts.


Wilkins of Westbury & Redland: the life and writings of

Rev Dr Henry John Wilkins (1865-1941)

Richard Coates

978 1 911592 24 2

Henry John Wilkins was a progressive force in local politics before entering the great tradition of English parsons who have been active local historians. The fact that  he was particularly a historian of Westbury-on-Trym makes it appropriate that this memoir and detailed bibliography should appear in the year that this parish celebrates its first thirteen centuries.

Richard Coates is Professor of Linguistics at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He is Hon. Director of the Survey of English Place-Names, and has written extensively on the place names and dialect of the Bristol area. He has a strong interest in local history, especially that of the ancient parishes of Westbury-on-Trym, including Shirehampton and Avonmouth and Henbury.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Kalendars: Bristol’s oldest Guild and earliest

public library

Nicholas Orme

978 1 911592 23 5

The Guild of Kalendars was Bristol’s most ancient religious guild, existing for at least four hundred years from the twelfth century until the Reformation. It gathered together the clergy and leading citizens for monthly celebrations of the dead in the church of All Saints. From 1464 it operated Bristol’s first public library. This study examines its history and functions, and legends.

Nicholas Orme is emeritus professor of history, Exeter University, and (among many other works) co-author of Westbury-on-Trym: Monastery, Minster and College (Bristol Record Society, 2010).

Change and continuity east of Tudor BristolALHA BOOKS.doc

Kathleen Hapgood

978 1 911592 22 8

Barton Hill, Bromley Heath, Downend, Eastville, Easton, Fishponds, Greenbank, Hillfields, Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Redfield, St George, Speedwell, Soundwell, Stapleton and Whitehall: all today thriving districts of Bristol. But all that area east of old Bristol Castle was countryside in the sixteenth century.

Kathleen Hapgood (author of ALHA No.7 The Friends to Literature: the Bristol Library Society 1772-1894) surveys the terrain, its occupants and their occupations, and the consequences of the Reformation in Tudor times.

The Herapaths of Bristol: a Medical and Scientific DynastyALHA BOOKS.doc

Brian Vincent

978 1 911592 21 1

Around 1780 two brothers, John and William Herapath, moved from Devon to Bristol where they ran pubs and breweries. From these two men descended five generations of scientists and doctors, all born in Bristol. Some members of the Herapath family were medical practitioners, whilst others made notable contributions to physical and analytical chemistry and to forensic science.

ALHA BOOKS.docVillage in Transition: Abbots Leigh 1911 - 1921

Murray Stewart

978 1 911592 20 4

Between 1911 and 1921, Abbots Leigh experienced both the Great War and the sale of the entire village and its surroundings which had belonged to the Miles family for a hundred years. Just another hundred years after that sale, Village in Transition tells in detail what happened and how the population and ownership of the area was changed.

Includes an A3 map of the village.

ALHA BOOKS.docPublic health in Victorian Bristol: the work of David Davies, Medical Officer of Health

Peter Malpass and Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 19 8

In the first half of the 19th century, Bristol was one of the most unhealthy cities in the country. David Davies was the first Medical Officer of Health (1865-1886), and here a medical and an urban historian combine to show how he worked, on the whole successfully, to reduce the mortality from infectious disease, while eschewing a more radical, preventive, approach to housing and sanitation.

ALHA BOOKS.docChemistry in Bristol into the Early Twentieth Century

Brian Vincent and Raymond Holland

978 1 911592 18 1

Chemistry only emerged as a science in the later 18th century. Since then, it has transformed our understanding of the natural world, our medical care, and our products and processes. The knowledge and experience of the two authors well qualifies them to tell us how this story played out in Bristol over some 150 years.

ALHA BOOKS.docBristol Politics in the Age of Peel, 1832 - 1847

John Stevens

978 1 911592 17 4

In the period following the Reform Act of 1832 Bristol voters still had two votes each and cast them openly. But the parties were changing: old Whigs and Tories still flourished, but Liberals and Conservatives were instituting or accepting reforms in every branch of national life. Bristol itself was of course particularly involved in the abolition of slavery and municipal reforms and shared the national concern with Corn Laws and Chartism. And then, as always, there were personalities … A thoroughly documented account of a fascinating era.

ALHA BOOKS.docSt James’s Fair, Bristol, 1137 - 1837

Joseph Bettey

978 1 911592 16 7

St James’s Fair was the first and for seven hundred years the most famous of Bristol’s fairs. At its height, it drew traders from all over England, and the rich cargoes destined for it were a magnet for pirates. Even at the end it still prospered, albeit more for pleasure than business; and it was the dubious moral character of those pleasures rather than financial failure which brought about its closure. Dr Bettey supplies a richly documented account.

ALHA BOOKS.docHomoeopathy in Bristol, 1840 - 1925

Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 15 0

Homoeopathy was as controversial in the nineteenth century as it is today, but it flourished in Bristol alongside conventional medicine. Here Dr Whitfield tells the story of Bristol’s homoeopathic practitioners up to 1925 when the opening of the Homoeopathic Hospital set the seal upon their endeavours.

Dr Michael Whitfield was senior lecturer in General Practice at the University of Bristol. In his retirement he has devoted himself to the history of medical practice in nineteenth-century Bristol, and is the author of several books in the ALHA series.

ALHA BOOKS.docFelt-Hatting in Bristol & South Gloucestershire 2: the Fall

Chris Heal

978 1 911592 14 3

At the end of the eighteenth century, Bristol & South Gloucestershire were home to a flourishing felt hat industry. It was the major employer in many villages and exports ran into tens of thousands. But then markets were lost, damaging strikes drove the major employers away, technology and fashions changed. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the local industry was dead. Here Dr Heal tells the story of this decline.

ALHA BOOKS.docFelt-Hatting in Bristol & South Gloucestershire 1: the Rise

Chris Heal

978 1 911592 13 6

For over three centuries from the time of Elizabeth I a felt-hat industry flourished in South Gloucestershire, supplying perhaps 40 million hoods for Bristol’s hatters and Bristol’s exports. Yet this important trade has been largely overlooked in the history of the region. Here Dr Heal tells of the rise of the industry to its peak around the end of the eighteenth century.

ALHA BOOKS.docShapwick & Winscombe: Contrasting Communities in the Somerset Landscape

Mick Aston

978 1 911592 12 9

In Shapwick & Winscombe, the late Mick Aston tells about work on two Somerset parishes: Shapwick, on which he was engaged for ten years; and Winscombe. Shapwick was historically a classic example of a closed settlement, dominated by one or two landlords; Winscombe of the open kind, enjoying relative freedom. But despite these contrasts, there were great similarities in the investigations: co-operation with colleagues of many disciplines, and wholehearted and valued involvement by the communities                                involved.

ALHA BOOKS.pdfFrom Catholic Devotion to Puritan Piety; Responses to the Reformation in the Avon Area 1530 - 1603

Joseph Bettey

978 1 911592 11 2

In 1530, England was an orthodox Catholic country whose King had been proclaimed Defender of the Faith by the Pope. By 1603, it was a fiercely Protestant country, where Catholics were forbidden to worship and the Queen was subject to a papal fatwa. In this book, Dr Bettey traces the various responses of the people in the Avon region as they withstood or ran ahead of the bewildering shifts in official religion, ending with a summary of the factors which brought about this monumental transformation.

ALHA BOOKS.docRedland: the making of a Victorian Suburb

Peter Malpass

978 1 911592 10 5


In 1850, Redland was still largely a rural area outside the city of Bristol. By 1900 it was very much the middle-class suburb that it is today. Peter Malpass shows how this development took place in an era before planning restrictions and big construction firms. Light is cast on the, not always logical, road system and the characteristic varieties of housing. This detailed reconstruction, fully illustrated with maps and photographs, makes a fascinating episode in the history of Bristol and a case study in Victorian urban development.

Includes an A3 map showing land ownership in 1841.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Bristol Microscopists and the Cholera Epidemic of 1849

Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 09 9

In 1849, Bristol suffered its second outbreak of cholera. Among those who rallied to counter it were members of the recently formed Bristol Microscopical Society.

Dr Whitfield profiles the members with particular attention to the three who reckoned to have found micro-organisms uniquely associated with the disease, and recreates an illuminating episode from the pioneer days of scientific medicine in the provinces.

ALHA BOOKS.docMorning Stars of the Reformation: Early Religious Reformers in the Bristol Region

Joseph Bettey

978 1 911592 08 2

The original Morning Star of the Reformation was John Wycliffe, whose teaching prefigured much that would become mainstream Protestantism a century later, especially the direct relation of Christian to God through the words of the Bible and not through priests. Despite repression, his followers, known as Lollards, remained active in the South West until overtaken or subsumed within the Lutheran reformation of the sixteenth century. Bettey’s account here takes the story through to that other great figure, William Tyndale, the Gloucester man who can claim much of the credit for the wording                                 of the King James Bible of 1611.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Friends to Literature: Bristol Library Society 1772 - 1864

Kathleen Hapgood

978 1 911592 07 5

The Bristol Library Society took over the old Jacobean library founded by Robert Redwood and operated it until they in turn handed it over to the City Council in 1894. This account therefore illustrates the transition from private charity, via personal subscription, to the rates as the basis for public library provision; and features some of the debates involved. It also sheds light on reading habits over this period, and the links between literature, science and civic culture in the age of assured progress.

ALHA BOOKS.docFor the Benefit of the Children: the Battle for a Board School in Keynsham, 1870 - 1893

Elizabeth White

978 1 911592 06 8

Keynsham in the late nineteenth century seemed just the place for a free non-denominational Board School under Forster’s 1870 Education Act. But Vicar Gray campaigned successfully against this, and at the same time expanded the Parochial Schools which continued to provide all the primary schooling for the children of the poor in Keynsham until 1954. Here is a fascinating account of the clash of personalities, principles, prejudices and propaganda which brought this about.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Bristol Dock Company, 1803 -1848

Peter Malpass

978 1 911592 05 1
Now out of print, but can be downloaded free of charge as a pdf file by clicking here.

The Bristol Dock Company was set up in 1803 to finance, carry out and operate the improved harbour which had long been urged. But the company structure and capital reflected the local politics and tensions which had delayed action hitherto, and which continued to handicap its operations over its 45-year life. It was never popular, and was much criticised in its lifetime and subsequently, but this detailed and fully documented account sets out to show that most if not all its weaknesses arose from the compromises and constraints built into its very foundations.

ALHA BOOKS.docDr. Goodeve and Cook’s Folly

Michael Whitfield

978 1 911592 04 4

Dr Henry Goodeve was a distinguished Victorian physician who made his reputation in British India. Cook’s Folly was a seventeenth century building which stood on the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge until it was pulled down in the 1930s. Before they set out to India, Goodeve and his wife had visited the Folly and formed an ambition to make it their home. Goodeve’s very successful practice in India enabled them to fulfil this dream and live there for the rest of their lives. Their story links a study of the practice and teaching of medicine in mid nineteenth century India to the social history of a Victorian professional family.

ALHA BOOKS.docAlternative Annals of Avon History

William Evans. Illustrated by Simon Gurr

978 1 911592 03 7

Conventional history is all very well, but it goes on too long. Alternative Annals brings together in 29 easy pieces all the truly memorable moments and characters of Avon’s history, together with some that didn’t actually feature, but should have, or perhaps will some day. Many have previously appeared in the pages of Avon Local History & Archaeology, while others have been specially, ah, researched for this publication.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Blue Maids Orphanage

Mary Wright

978 1 911592 02 0

The Blue Maids Orphanage opened in 1795, a generation before Muller’s Orphanage. But it lay at the bottom of Ashley Hill with Muller’s at the top, and has been rather overshadowed by the larger and richer institution. Yet there is a tale to tell even in its relative lack of funds and the struggles of the directing committee to keep it going until eventual closure in 1927. Drawing on the surviving records (including century-old photographs) and well placed in the context of its times, this book explores the behaviour and expectations of its donors, managers and inmates; and contributes yet another chapter to the rich history of charitable care in Bristol.

ALHA BOOKS.docThe Medieval Friaries, Hospitals & Chapelries of Bristol

Joseph Bettey

978 1 911592 01 3

In addition to three monastic houses and eighteen parish churches, four friaries and many hospitals, almshouses and chapels were crowded in and around Bristol in the later Middle Ages. This book relates how these institutions were founded, built and supported by pious benefactors; how they provided help and relief to the sick, the old, the destitute and the outcasts of society; and how the physical and spiritual needs of Bristolians suffered in the suppression of religious houses and chantries under Henry VIII and Edward V1, when so many charities were destroyed.

ALHA Books

In 2009, we embarked on the project of publishing compact but authoritative books on aspects of Avon's history. Since then we have published 27 titles, and our gold livery has earned recognition and respect from those working on or interested in the history of our region.

Our booklets are original works about aspects of Avon history. ‘History’ is interpreted broadly, to include archaeology, prehistory and pre-human history.  No topic is excluded as long as it has some history to it which is likely to interest a sufficient number of readers.

Texts should be between 10,000 and 15,000 words, excluding references and reading list, but including appendices and explanatory notes. Illustrations are a big feature of our list, but of course some subjects are more graphic than others.

We welcome proposals from authors. Whether you are a new or an established author, an academic or an amateur, if you have researched a topic which fits our parameters, and would like to write about it, click for a copy of our Guidelines for Authors and then contact our Editor, Dr Jonathan Harlow at


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