About Us

ALHA was founded in 1976 with the then new County of Avon. Avon County has long since been abolished, but ALHA still flourishes as an independent organisation owing nothing to local or national government.

ALHA exists because, whether politicians choose to incorporate it or not, the Avon region is an economic and social and historical entity, not so much separate from as special within the grand historic counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire.


There are some eighty societies in ALHA, with a collective membership of about 10,000. Some are region-wide but with special interests like the Bristol & Avon Family History Society; while many are parish- or district-based. (See Groups for lists and locations).

We also have links with local institutions, such as Record Offices, Libraries, Museums and Universities.

We are managed by an elected Executive Committee meeting once a quarter, and operate through a small number of voluntary officers.  

ALHA Membership

Membership of ALHA is open to both groups or other institutions, and to individuals. Group members receive a free copy of the Speakers List and all members receive a copy of the Newsletter.

Subscription rates are as follows:


£5 if newsletters are received by e-mail

£7 if newsletters are received by post


£3 if newsletters are received by e-mail

£5 if newsletters are received by post

Members also benefit from the concessionary rate for admission to the Local History Day, and are welcome to attend Executive Committee meetings. ALHA publishes details of the meetings of member groups on its website and in the newsletter.

Separate membership forms can be downloaded here for groups and individuals.

For further information, please contact the membership secretary whose details are on the right.

ALHA Activities

Annual Joseph Bettey Lecture

Started in 2011, the annual lectures are intended to inspire listeners to undertake local history work and give them some ideas of how to set about it. They are named for Dr Joseph Bettey who has written, taught and promoted so much history in this region. The lecture takes place after our AGM.

The first Joseph Bettey Lecture was given by the late Mick Aston, who was well-known both locally and nationally for his archaeological work and the 2012 lecture by Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol. The speaker at the 2013 Lecture was Robert Jones, Bristol Senior Archaeological Officer, and his subject was 'Bristol’s Archaeology in retrospect and prospect – the role of the amateur in a professional world'. The 2014 AGM was a joint meeting with the Gordano Society, and was held at Portishead on Friday 10th October. The guest speaker was Professor Peter Fleming of the University of the West of England, and his subject was "The Bristol region in the later middle ages".

The 2015 AGM and Joseph Bettey Lecture were hosted by Abbots Leigh Civic Society and held on Wednesday 14th October 2015 at Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, Bristol. The lecture was given by Professor Murray Stewart, and the topic was rhe sale of the Abbots Leigh estate in October 1915.

ALHA member Marshfield & District Local History Society hosted the 2016 AGM on the evening of Tuesday 18 October in the Marshfield Community Centre, The Hayfield, Marshfield SN14 8PG. The Joe Bettey lecture was delivered by Dr Alex Craven, contributing editor of the Victoria County History of Gloucestershire. His topic was The Limits of Authority: Boundaries, Borders and Bloodshed in the West of England 1500 - 1800.

The 2017 Lecture was held on Wednesday 18 October at 7 p.m., when the speaker was Professor Helen Meller. Her talk was titled "How to live in the modern city: women's contribution in Bristol 1860s-1930s". The venue was be the Friends’ Meeting House on Frenchay Common, Beckspool Road, Bristol, BS16 1NT. The event was hosted by the Frenchay Tuckett Society.

The 2018 AGM and Joseph Bettey Lecture was held on the evening of Wednesday 17 October at Glenside Campus of UWE, Blackberry Hill, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 1DD. The meeting was jointly hosted by UWE and the Glenside Hospital Museum, and the history of the hospital was the subject of the lecture. Our guest speaker was Stella Man, development director at Glenside Hospital Museum, and the title of her lecture was Discover the secrets to well-being by examining the history of Glenside Hospital.

The 2019 AGM and Joseph Bettey Lecture was on Saturday afternoon, 5 October at 2 p.m.. The Joseph Bettey Lecture was given by Dr. Madge Dresser, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, UWE, after many years as an Associate Professor in Social and Cultural British History. Her lecture was titled Landscapes of slavery - some new reflections on investigating Bristol and the wider Atlantic slave economy.

The covid pandemic of 2020 meant that no public meetings could be held. The delayed AGM therefore took place as a Zoom meeting hosted by Fampton Cotterell & District LHS on 18 January 2021. After the formal business, five groups described the activities they had been involved in during lockdown.


In 2009, we started a project to publish compact but authoritative books on aspects of Avon's history, and 31 titles have now been published.

A full list of available titles can be found at Publications.

Our scope is Avon-wide not just Bristol - see our Guidelines for Authors. Potential authors should get in touch with the Editor.


We offer grants to members to help them in local history research, publication or events projects. 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

Local History Day

Each year in the spring we hold a full day's conference on a local history topic, with presentations from both amateur and professional historians, and displays by local history societies and institutions.

The 2018 Local History Study Day was held on Saturday 21 April at the Frenchay campus of the University of the West of England. The topic was Religion and Community, Conflict and Change. You can download the texts of the papers given by the six speakers here.

The 2019 ALHA Local History Day was held on Saturday 27 April in the Severnside Suite at Thornbury Leisure Centre. The theme was Getting About, and dealt with various aspects of the history of transport in our area, including Roman Roads, the Port of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century, the Dramway, travel in the Victorian era, and the Clifton Rocks Railway. You can download the texts of the papers given by four of the five speakers here.

The 2020 ALHA Local History Day has been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis. We have not yet fixed a date when it will be held.


We produce a quarterly Newsletter, covering recent events, current issues, recent publications, ongoing projects and opportunities and forthcoming activities, including the Diary of all the events we know of for the following four months. The circulation is about 200 copies, but many of these reach multiple readership. In addition, there is a monthly update in months which do not havea full newsletter.

An increasing number of members take the e-mail version, which is cheaper for us (and them!) and enables easy redistribution within groups. This is now in a more screen friendly version. Click for the latest edition of the newsletter or update. Older issues can be found in the Archive section.

Please send notices or other copy to the Editor.

Deadlines are printed in each issue, but anything reaching him by the middle of March, June, September or December should make the issue for the succeeding quarter.

Starter Pack

A collection of suggestions for those thinking of starting a new local history group. There are some general ideas on what a local history society might do and how to form one; a draft constitution, a note on legal considerations, and a brief booklist.  

Summer Walks

Each month from May to August there is a guided walk in some part of the region, or a visit to some place of special interest not generally open to the public.

Walks & Talks List

A booklet with the names and contact details of some sixty people who are ready to lead walks or give talks (with a list of the topics they offer). The Programme Secretary's prop! Currently we aim to bring out an updated edition every year.

We only include Speakers who have been recommended to us; and we are prepared to delete speakers who have serially disappointed. Recommendations or reports please to the List Editor.



(Official invitations and acknowledgements)

Roger Angerson has now stepped down from the post of President after many years involvement with ALHA, and the post is currently vacant.


Bob Lawrence

Flat 1 Chartley, 22 The Avenue, Sneyd Park, Bristol, BS9 1PE


Treasurer, Membership Secretary

and Newsletter Editor

William Evans

5 Parrys Grove, Bristol BS9 1TT

0117 968 4979



Catherine Dixon

3 Black Rock Villas, Portishead

Bristol, BS20 8PN

01275 849200


Editor: ALHA Books

and Reviews for Newsletter

Jonathan Harlow

Hardings Cottage, Swan Lane, Winterbourne, BS36 1RJ  

01454 775731


Summer Walks Organiser

Mike Hooper

Birchwood Lodge,

59 Birchwood Road,

Bristol, BS4 4QL

0117 9775512


Editor, Walks & Talks List

Webmaster and Events Diary

Bob Lawrence

Flat 1 Chartley, 22 The Avenue, Sneyd Park, Bristol, BS9 1PE



Veronica Bowerman




Jane Bradley

Ian Chard

Peter Fleming

Mike Hooper

Jan Packer

Olive Woolcott