The Layton collection includes over 4,000 maps and prints and 150 framed prints, maps and paintings.
Many of these show the Thames – Layton lived and worked beside the river for his entire life and it played a vital role in the history and development of Brentford. There are items on Kew Bridge, Brentford Ferry and the Layton family lighterage business.
The print collection spans the period from the 17th to the 19th century. The images include topographical prints and plans of buildings in London and Middlesex. Some of these are among the earliest known plans of London. Rarer perhaps are prints of works by Pugin, Canaletto and Hogarth.
There are local views of Kew, Brentford, Chiswick, Syon House, Gunnersbury House and Boston Manor as well as a large and quirky collection of portraits.
The maps include both historic maps showing other parts of the world and 19th century maps of local interest, such as sales partic-ulars for suburban building plots.
Seventeenth century maps in the collection show Africa, Jamaica and Barbados. And an 18th century map shows the route of the turnpike road from Tyburn (now Marble Arch) to Uxbridge.
Layton collected playbills. The majority are from London theatres, especially the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. However, there are also examples from Richmond in Surrey, Bath, Margate and Brighton and a wonderful circus poster from Brentford.
Layton collected a large number of small engraved portraits. They were probably collected with his planned museum in mind, so that the people of Brentford would know about famous and worthy people as well as some infamous ones, like the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot.
72 items from the Layton Collection were scanned and included in the NOF-funded Thames Pilot project which has assembled material relating to the river from a large by number of collections.
During 2003 the entire collection of maps and prints was systematically re-housed in conservation standard protective sleeves and as part of the Layton’s Legacy project the collection was audited against the early catalogues by Janet McNamara and Paul Fitzmaurice.