Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Local History

Avon Local History & Archaeology

In association with the Regional History Centre UWE

9.30 – 4.30 Saturday 21 April 2018


Religious beliefs and practices have influenced many aspects of our area’s past and present: the coming of Christianity; the reformation; the fierce conflicts of the 17th century; the rise of nonconformity; churches’ struggles to cope with the rising population in the 19th century; the subsequent decline of religious observances; the advent of other religions from abroad: Mormons from America, Sikhs and Muslims from the east. Religion has shaped government and politics, individual morality, defined and altered social status, altered the landscape and the streetscape.

We hope to look – selectively, because the topic is so vast – at the origins and early years of a church in medieval Bristol; the local shattering of the church of England in the 17th century; the social impact Wesley’s ideas made on 18th century people; the catholic emancipation furore of the 1820s and 1830s; local mission churches in the 19th century; how religious observances and building affected a Bristol Victorian suburb; and how the Mormons came to Bristol and grew.

Speakers lined up include Rob Harding and Jonathan Harlow of UWE; Gary Best of Wesley’s New Room; ALHA books author John Stevens; Mike Youings from Nailsea, Bob Lawrence of ALHA and B&AFHS; and Wendy Thompson of Weston-super-mare and the Church of JC of LDS.

This will be the fourth ALHA Local History Day held at the Frenchay campus of the University of the West of England. Talks and displays will be in the B block lecture theatre; refreshments in the café in S block (the New Redland building). Ample free parking.

Doors open from 9.15. Food and drink from the S block cafe in the coffee break and in the lunch hour (arrangements for ordering in advance the same as last year), or bring your own. We welcome displays and sales stalls – with two free tickets per booked exhibitor.

To book please visit the ALHA website

Further information can also be found on the booking form.

Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society

The Society was, perhaps unusually, founded by members of the Urban District Council, led by Councillor Gordon Young. In 1955 the postwar redevelopment of Cirencester was beginning to stir. It was known that Cirencester was rich in archaeology, as something was unearthed almost whenever a hole was dug. There were at that time no legal requirements to search for, save or document archaeology.

Councillor Gordon Young

Councillor Young floated the idea of a society to monitor developments at a Rotary meeting, and considerable interest was raised. Within a few months the Society was formed and started visiting various excavations. A 1980 Newsletter article describes these beginnings.

So much work was needed that a separate organisation was formed of interested people and professionals, which became the Cirencester Excavation Committee. The Committee’s annual activities were summarised in the Society’s Newsletter, which started in 1958.


The Cirencester Excavation Committee eventually became Cotswold Archaeology, now one of the leading archaeology companies in the country, which spreads its interests far and wide.

Like most local societies we hold a series of talks every year. They are now reported on our website, as well as in the local press. The Newsletter includes submitted articles. We also published longer articles in the Miscellany series, which ran for several years.

Over the years the society has run numerous projects, many described on our website. One of the longest running was to do with turnpikes and milestones. Reports appeared for many years of members’ activities on the various roads radiating from Cirencester. We are hoping to gather all this together in one place. It will be no surprise that a founder member of the Milestone Society is a recent Chairman of our Society.

As with many other societies, we have a project on the memorials to the dead of the First World War. An exhibition was mounted for a month in 2014 in the Corinium Museum, supported by a Heritage Lottery grant, which also funded related activity by Arts groups in the town.

Cirencester has two major memorials to the dead, one on the Parish Church wall, and the other on the walls of the Memorial Hospital. The names do not agree! You can read the story as we know it so far on our website. This lists all the names and what we know so far about the dead, in some cases, nothing, and in others a great deal, much culled from the newspapers of the time. The Memorial Hospital has a history of its own, see Newsletter 48.

Last year we joined with other local organisations to celebrate 900 years since the founding of Cirencester Abbey, giving talks and helping the public to build a Lego model of the Abbey. Our Newsletter contains articles about the Abbey on many occasions over the years, starting with issue no.2.


The Lego team 

This year we are hosting the annual Summer Meeting of the Gloucestershire Local History Association on Saturday June 23rd.  Members of the public welcome. Details and booking form are on our website. Spaces are limited, so book early.

News from Victoria County History, Gloucestershire

Founded in 1899 and originally dedicated to Queen Victoria, the VCH is an encyclopaedic record of England's places and people from earliest times to the present day. Based at the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London since 1933, the VCH is written by historians working in counties across England.

The latest newsletter from Gloucestershire (8) contains all the news of the latest developments as our editors and volunteers continue to research our three areas of activity: the Sodburys, Cheltenham and Cirencester.

We also say goodbye to two of our hard-working editors: John Chandler, our Consultant Editor, who has been with the Trust since its inception, and Francis Boorman, who has contributed so much as editor of the Cirencester volume. John is not completely severing his links with the Trust. We thank them both for their exceptional contributions to the success of the Trust in continuing the work of the VCH. As we bid them farewell, we also say welcome to new VCH researcher Katy Layton-Jones.

Newsletter number 8 also includes news from Gloucestershire’s County Co-ordinator, Jan Broadway, articles about an interesting find at the Archives, the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU) in Cirencester Schools 1918-36 Part Two and information about a new study helping to explain the foundations upon which present-day Cheltenham was constructed (Cheltenham before the spa – Alex Craven and Beth Hartland).

To see the latest VCH Gloucestershire newsletter and read more about the work visit 

VCH Gloucestershire, c/o Gloucestershire Archives, Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester GL1 3DW.

Gloucester's Anglo-Saxon Warrior Queen:

Celebrating 1,100 years since the death of Aethelflaed

This June, organisations across Gloucester will be commemorating the life of Aethelflaed, an influential but often overlooked female leader who was buried at St Oswald’s, Gloucester 1,100 years ago.

From Thursday 7th – Tuesday 12th June, there will be activities across the city for schools, families, visitors and locals. The weekend will see the transformation of St Oswald’s Priory into an Anglo-Saxon ‘living history’ settlement. You will be able to experience 10th century life and uncover more about St Oswald’s Priory through geo-physical surveys.

Fascinating talks will take place at Blackfriars Priory on Sunday 10th with a mini Gloucester History Festival, featuring Janina Ramirez, Tom Holland and others.

To book tickets and find out more, contact

The Civic Trust will be hosting City Walls guided tours and fun craft activities at St Michael’s Tower. An Aethelflaed exhibition in the Museum of Gloucester opens on Saturday 9th June and is on display until Saturday 22nd September. 

Witness Aethelflaed being carried through the City to her final resting place at St Oswald’s Priory with a parade on Saturday 9th June from North Quay.

Gloucester Cathedral’s Evensong on Tuesday 12th June will be dedicated to Aethelflaed.

To receive a FREE education pack about Aethelflaed, available now from

There will be a buzzing programme of live performances, including period music and contemporary theatre, storytelling and music from local artists, commissioned especially for the occasion. Grove (pictured below), an up-and-coming, young, local singer and musician has been commissioned to write new music about Aethelflaed.

Witness Aethelflaed being carried through the City to her final resting place at St Oswald’s Priory with a parade on Saturday 9th June from North Quay.

Gloucester Cathedral’s Evensong on Tuesday 12th June will be dedicated to Aethelflaed.

We are grateful to our funders: National Lottery: Heritage Lottery Fund & Arts Council England, Gloucester City Council and Gloucester BID

Project partners are: Gloucester City Council, Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester History Festival, Marketing Gloucester, Gloucester Civic Trust, Gloucester Cathedral and Museum of Gloucester

ADVANCE NOTICE:  Save the date - Gloucester History Festival 1st-16th September

500 signatures

Sue Jones writes -

This rather fragile book in Gloucestershire Archives to which I was drawn almost by accident has proved to be a really exciting discovery. In over 14 years of intermittent research into the women’s suffrage movement in the North East and, more recently, Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, it is the only undiscovered resource I have come across.

GA reference - D5130/6/6

In 1912, the Cheltenham M.P. James Agg-Gardner introduced the second reading of the Conciliation Bill in the Commons. It would have given the vote to about one million women and would have been a milestone on the route to women’s suffrage. It didn’t succeed but the women’s suffrage societies in Cheltenham organised the presentation of a book of thanks to Agg-Gardner with nearly 500 signatures being collected very quickly. In this book, I was able to see the signatures of those prominent activists I had already identified but, more importantly, to collect names of many more women (and men) who were supporters of the cause. Using the 1911 census, I have therefore been able to put ‘flesh’ on these names and to build up a much fuller picture of the movement in the town. This is remarkable when, as in most areas, there are no existing membership lists or minutes.

So – the domestic servants have emerged alongside the retired colonial civil servants and the draper’s assistants alongside their managing director. A picture can be developed of much more colour and variety, and this has helped me in the building up of a much larger database of those involved.

For more information visit

Discovery down under


A recent enquiry to the local Dursley & Cam Historical Society was referred to me by their Chairman, Andy Barton. He had received a photograph of an AC/DC motor generator set mounted on a cast iron bedplate clearly bearing the name Mawdsley’s Ltd. Dursley, Glos.


Shows AC/DC MG set as found.                                               Detail showing field coil clamp.                                            

Detail of brush gear and rocker with coiled collector lead to allow rocker adjustment

The machine had been discovered in the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand  Opera House when work was started to reinforce the foundations against future earthquakes. Many tons of concrete have been pumped into these basement areas and the motor generator set was one of the many old artefacts found in a sealed room before the pumping operation commenced. The Opera House was built in 1915 and the enquiry was whether the set dated from then or a later period.

Mr Mawdsley began manufacturing his machines at Dursley in 1907 and his earliest designs employed yokes of cast iron with the poles cast in as one piece and no Inter/Commutating poles.  With the nameplate carrying patent No’s 6666/02; 9604/03 and 19174/07 and the yoke and poles clearly of solid cast iron I realised it must be one of these very early designs and so could date the set from the very early years of the Opera House where it may have been used to supply DC power for arc lighting or scenery hoists motors.


            Generator(Dynamo) nameplate

The nameplate data  of 80 volts and 80 amperes gives an output of 6.4kW at 900 rpm and, from the  information I had found from this period and included in my book, “The Mawdsley Story”, I deduced it should be in the M6 frame size and subsequent measurements taken in New Zealand confirm that this is the model,  with its 10 inch diameter armature.

The AC  induction driving motor, an early model of a type invented in 1888, was made by General Electric, Schenectady, USA. With a nameplate output of 20HP at 960 rpm it may have been the nearest stock size machine that was then available.  Mawdsley’s, themselves, did not manufacture AC motors until the late 1920’s 

This is a very rare find of one of Mr Mawdsley’s original design machines and could well be the only one still in existence.  In 1957, to celebrate the Firm’s fiftieth anniversary, an exhibition of old machines was held and, despite enquiries made at the time, no “M” type machines were found.

I understand that the Opera House people intend to make a museum space for the various artifacts found so, hopefully, these very old machines will be preserved .

L H Jones CEng. MIET.      




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