Betley Local History Society was first founded in 1980 following, or even during the time of running (1977-80) a very successful university extramural class in the village. This was led by Robert Speake, M.Litt. (Principal Lecturer in History at Madeley Teacher Training College) who was working for the University of Keele. This class led to the research, writing and publication of the history of the village: Betley: A Village of Contrasts, Speake, R. (Editor) 1980  Keele University Department of Adult Education, 225 pp. Unfortunately, this book (ISSN 0144-140X) is now out of print.  

A leading light in the class which was held in the village school was Les Bradshaw (1921-1999), a churchwarden and chorister of St. Margaret's Church for over fifty years. He served as the first chairman of the Society and it was he who, with the help of Philip Coops, revived the flagging fortunes of the organisation in 1997, by taking on the role of chairperson until his untimely death. His memory is commemorated by an annual "Les Bradshaw Memorial Lecture" held at one of the Society's monthly meetings.