Death of Mr Thomas Layton
Obituary from The Chiswick Times, 6 April 1911
We regret to report the death, which took place on Monday evening, of Mr Thomas Layton, at the advanced age of 92 years. The deceased had been in failing health for a Iong time past, but he became worse in the early part of last week and passed peacefully away as stated on Monday. To the great majority of residents the news came in the nature of a shock, for whilst it was known that the venerable old gentleman was growing gradually weaker it was not thought that the end was so near. Brentford has sustained an irreparable loss and its strongest and principal link with the past has thus been snapped.
The deceased was born at Strand-on-the-Green in 1819, but at the age of six years he removed with his parents to Kew Bridge, and it is noteworthy that he had lived there without intermission during the whole period of his long life. In his youth he followed his father’s business as a lighterman and coal merchant. He commenced at an early age to take a deep interest in all public life and work. In the year 1874 he joined the Local Board which came in to existence at that time and he was appointed to succeed the late Mr J Montgomrey in the chair at the annual meeting in 1876. His period of office was a particularly happy one and be was again appointed in the following year. He always had an eye to the humorous, but always preserving good order, though how he did so at times, considering his naturally mild ways, is a matter for some surprise. However, so completely had he the confidence of his colleagues that he continued in the chair right up until 1895 when the Local Government Act of 1894 came into operation establishing Urban District Councils. He became the first Chairman, and was nominated for the position again the following year, but be was defeated, on a vote being taken, by Mr K Underwood.
His term of office having expired this old and faithful servant of the ratepayers offered himself at the election of April 1898, when Mr W Bradley and Mr J Reeder first appealed to the public. Messrs Bradley, Collier, Dorey and Reeder were returned, the last named defeating Mr Layton by about 70 votes for the fourth position on the poll. On returning thanks after the declaration of the poll Mr Layton declared that the decision then given had resulted in the ratepayers severing their connection with him. However, on April 19th of that year the late Mr Collier drew attention to the fact that the Council had the power to choose a Chairman from outside, and all except two of the Council were in favour of co-opting Mr Layton as Chairman for that year. Messrs Underwood and Reeder, whilst opposing the idea of appointing a chairman from the outside, did not vote against the proposal and Mr Layton was therefore elected. He was very strongly pressed to stand for election again in the following year, but he never forgave the electorate for having rejected him and he declined any further service
He was, we believe, a member of the Board of Guardians for about 11 years, and was for many years a churchwarden at St. George’s besides which he was a trustee of many charities and a prominent figure in connection with many of the town’s affairs. He was one of the original members of the Library Committee and on the appointment of that body in 1889 he was appointed its first Chairman – and he retained that office up to his death. He was also at one time a member of the Middlesex County Council.
His one great hobby was the collection and study of antiquities. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians and his house is a treasure store of priceless possessions of unique interest. He was a profound scholar, and always had a most refined style with him, but none the less he was brimful of humour and always ready to see the funny side of a situation or a remark.
Brentford is a great deal the poorer for his loss.
It is requested that his friends will observe the very strong wish he has so often expressed against the presence of flowers at a funeral.