Layton’s Bequest

The foundations for the Layton Memorial and Museum Trust were laid at Layton’s death in 1911. He bequeathed £20,000 and his collections to the people of Brentford. His purpose was to form a museum in his home at 22 Kew Bridge Road, but this dream was never to be realised.

Brentford Librarian, Fred Turner

Layton’s will allowed his nephew and family to continue to live in the house for the remainder of their lives. This led to concern about the future of the house and the Museum and the terms of the will were contested.

In 1913 a Court Order allowed the collection to be removed from the house and stored at Brentford Library. Fred Turner, the librarian, began the work of cataloguing the material.  He had to be selective, and  some of the books and artefacts were sold in a series of auctions in 1914.  Layton’s objects and books were displayed at Brentford Library and remained under Turner’s care until he retired in the 1930s.

In the 1950s, temporary accommodation for the collection in poor conditions caused anxiety about its future. In 1959 the archaeological and ethnographical material, along with the coins and medals, were moved to what is now the Museum of London. Some objects were moved to Gunnersbury Park Museum

Some of the books in modern storage

However, damage and loss to the book and print collections continued during the 1970s and 80s, and an attempt was made to give the collection to the University of East Anglia. A local campaign led by James Wisdom, Chairman of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society, called a halt to this plan. The Layton Memorial and Museum Trust was reconstituted and in 1988 a permanent home for the books, prints and paintings was provided at the new library in the Treaty Centre, Hounslow.

In 2018, with the closure of the Treaty Centre Library, part of the Collection was moved to a purpose-built store in Feltham Library to be supervised by the Local Studies service. The remainder of the collection is in store at the London Metropolitan Archives until space is found to reunite the Collection and make it available to the public.

Information about the Trust today can be found here