Layton’s Legacy: the project and the book

Mike Galer, project co-ordinator

Layton’s intention was to create a museum for the people of Brentford in his home beside Kew Bridge. Complications over his will meant that the collection had to be moved out of the house and some items were sold. Today books, maps and prints are in Hounslow’s Treaty Centre Library and objects are housed in the Museum of London and at Gunnersbury Park Museum.

The Layton’s Legacy project, completed in June 2007, was supported by a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was designed to raise the profile of the man and his collection and to make sense of what he collected. The project produced 3 exhibitions, a web-site and a publication.

The project involved various members of Brentford’s diverse community, with their differing views and experiences of preserving and interpreting history, traditions and collections. Volunteers have helped celebrate this local treasure by assisting with research, mounting the exhibitions and carrying out an audit of the book collection. The book audit continues, checking for misplaced items and identifying books which most urgently need repair or rebinding. In addition the task of listing the prints and maps has been completed.

Layton’s Legacy by Mike Galer ISBN 978-0-9554575-0-0Layton's Legacy - a book by Mike Galer

The book on Thomas Layton (1819-1911), one of Brentford’s most prominent Victorian businessmen and a very long-serving local councillor, is available from Hounslow libraries or by post. Written by Mike Galer, the co-ordinator of the Layton’s Legacy project during 2005 and 2006, it covers Layton’s life, his remarkable collection, his political activity and his impact on the town of Brentford. The book is well written and beautifully illustrated. Anyone interested in the history of collecting and museums or in the history of Brentford will find this book a fascinating read.

Copies are on now on sale:

  • at £4.50 at Brentford and Chiswick public libraries, or
  • by post at £5.50 from Layton’s Legacy, 25 Hartington Road, London W4 3TL. Send your name and address clearly written with a cheque made out to the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society.