Black GIs in the West Country

Monday 8 November saw a webinar on local wartime history. This fascinating evening brought two stories of how America’s racial relations and civil rights movement came to the West Country during the Second World War. Although not organised by CDHS, we are sure that these talks will be of interest to our members.

To begin, Professor Mary Louise Roberts from the University of Wisconsin, USA, related the amazing story of Leroy Henry, an African-American soldier who was saved from a hanging after an incident in Combe Down.

This was followed by Kate Werran, who talked about the dramatic ‘wild west’ shoot-out that took place in Launceston, Cornwall between black American GIs and military police.

Thanks to Tanya Parker of the South West TUC, we can now post the recording of these two talks on our website.

More details of the Leroy Henry case can be found on the website of Robert Walsh, a freelance writer based in Cornwall.

Prof. Irving’s talk to Chepstow Arch.Soc.

On May 6th this year, Dick Irving gave a talk via Zoom to the Chepstow Archaeological Society: “A Brief History of the Stone Mines and Quarries at Combe Down, near Bath”. Thanks to Colin Harris, the Chairman of that society, and to Miranda Litchfield, Chief Executive of our sister organisation the Museum of Bath Stone, we can now make this available here on our own website.

The talk proper begins at 1:50 and lasts until 59:00, after which there are questions.

Programme for the remainder of 2021

All talks are held at the Combe Down Primary School Hall in Summer Lane, BA2 5JX.   Events start at 7.30pm.
CDHS Members £1, Visitors £3. All tickets on the door.

In the hope and expectation that public meetings in some form or other will be possible in the Autumn, four talks have been scheduled as follows.

September8thDr. Richard IrvingHistory of Combe Down mines
October13th Dr. Roger RansomeHorseshoe bat population of the Combe Down mines
November10thDr. Roger RollsHistory of infectious diseases in Bath
December8thMichael Howard-KyanRiding Africa



This year’s Annual General Meeting was held successfully online for the first time, using Zoom. It took place at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 16 April.

It was attended by (at least) 23 people, although many kept their video feeds turned off (at our request) so the actual total number of members present may have been larger.

The minutes of the meeting are available here.

2021 Programme so far

All talks are held at the Combe Down Primary School Hall in Summer Lane, BA2 5JX.   Events start at 7.30pm.
CDHS Members £1, Visitors £3. All tickets on the door.


All talks are cancelled until further notice

Annual General Meeting 2020

The rescheduled date for our AGM was to have been 22nd May 2020 but in view of the continuing uncertainty about when public gatherings of any sort will be possible the Committee has taken the decision to postpone  until life returns to normal.  Obviously we all hope this will be as soon as possible.

We will be contacting our members again shortly with copies of the annual accounts and the Chair’s report for last year so that we can answer any questions you may have before the year under review becomes too distant.

Meanwhile do let me know if you have any thoughts on what we could or should be doing before normal service resumes.

This comes with our best wishes

Simon Burrows

“A Village of Schools”


A new book on education in Combe Down by Jill Woodhead has recently been published by the Combe Down Heritage Society. “A Village of Schools” looks at the many schools, and the workhouse, that have come and gone on Combe Down between 1727 and 2000.

Reviewed by local historian Andrew Swift, he praised the work and suggested it would be of immense help to future writers on the history of Combe Down.

Available now from the Museum of Bath Stone, 55 Combe Road, Combe Down; many local bookshops; or online at the CDHS eShop : Price £6


Many of us remember the commemorative plates that were commissioned to mark the completion of the stabilisation of the Stone Mines. Each of the 691 householders living over the mines was given a ceramic plate – one small part of a map – representing not only their individual house but the mine world beneath and the creatures to be found there.

Of the single print run that was made for exhibition, there are a number of duplicates remaining and these are available for sale to Combe Down residents.

Prices are from £5 to £10 depending on the image and detail depicted, with further price reductions available on request.
Contact: Jen Morgan at or phone 01225 837439. (N.B. The email address in the image below is wrong.)