Layton Centenary Walk on 3rd September

Celebrate Brentford's Auspicious Benefactor

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Sir Thomas Leyton
Sir Thomas Leyton

first page of his last Will and Testament

The Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society

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100 years ago, Thomas Layton bequeathed his remarkable collection to the people of Brentford – we are marking this anniversary with a special guided walk through the town to the places which are associated with Layton. It will be a great way to learn something of Layton, and of Brentford when it was a Victorian town.

The walk will leave Brentford Library in Boston Manor Road (TW8 8DW) at 4.15 p.m. and will last for about one and a half hours. We will finish at the site of Layton’s house at Kew Bridge, near to the Express Hotel and the pubs of Strand on the Green.

Thomas Layton was a local businessman, church warden at St George’s Church (the old Musical Museum) and a councillor involved in local politics for many years during the 19th century.

Thomas Layton was a keen antiquarian and obsessive collector of books and all things old.

He was especially interested in local items and things from the Thames, but collected from all over the world. He filled 30 sheds in his garden near Kew Bridge with books, maps, prints, coins, medals, tokens, stone age tools and bronze age weapons some of which had been found locally or had something to do with the history of the town.

He was born in 1817, only two years after the Battle of Waterloo and died on September 4th 1911 leaving his vast collection to the people of Brentford with his house to become a museum.

Due to many complications this never took place and the collection was divided and some parts sold. Today the objects in his collection are mainly in the Museum of London, and his books and prints at Hounslow Library. Its history is told in a book called Layton’s Legacy: Thomas Layton of Brentford and his Collection by Mike Galer (available at local libraries) and where you can learn more about his legacy, his collection and the man himself..

A successful business man who traded along the Thames, he also served Brentford as elected councillor for over 50 years.  Layton deserves to be celebrated as a local benefactor and a great character of Brentford.

He was involved in many civic improvements in Brentford, including a library, swimming baths, sewage works, fire station and infirmary.  These Victorian projects and buildings can still be seen (if sometimes put to other uses!) and Layton often left his mark with public inscriptions. 

August 25, 2011