Information for Volunteers


Thomas Layton died in 1911, aged 92, leaving a huge antiquarian collection to the people of Brentford. A local businessman and a prominent politician from a very early age, he lived for many years in a house beside Kew Bridge which he intended should become a museum. Though the museum did not open there a large proportion of the collection was preserved. The objects are on long-term loan to the Museum of London where many of Layton’s archaeological items from the Thames can be seen in the ‘London Before London Gallery’, while the books and prints are housed at Hounslow’s Central Library.

The Thomas Layton Trust has begun putting the collection back together intellectually and virtually on its website at In an unusual and exciting new project, Layton’s Library, the Trust aims to help people discover and enjoy part of the book collection through exhibitions, a publication and new web resources. The Trust has received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to recruit and train a group of volunteers to work on the project, and they will be managed by our newly appointed Project Co-ordinator, Sarah Hutton.

What can we offer you?

The project will run until December 2016 and we can offer volunteers the opportunity to gain experience in a number of different areas. These include:

• Learning how to work with and handle 17th and 18th century books, including many rare and unusual items
• Developing research skills using libraries, archives and museums
• Gaining skills in creating exhibitions, including selecting objects, writing labels and panels, interpreting and stewarding at Hogarth’s House and Boston Manor House
• Learning how to contribute to an online exhibition through the Layton Collection website
• Creating a new print publication relating to the project
• Helping to organise a Georgian book club
• Supporting a range of workshops on paper making, book binding and marbling paper

The project’s working room will be at Chiswick Library and the main meeting day is likely to be each Thursday.

What do we ask from you?

Above all else, we are looking for people from the local area who are interested in books and the past and would really love a chance to share what they find out with other people in the Brentford community and beyond.

We can provide you with support and training in all aspects of the project, but we do ask that you have basic computer skills as these will be important to enable you to carry out research, write text and communicate with other members of the team. We are able to provide some expenses to ensure no one is excluded from the opportunity to volunteer.

How to apply

If you would like to apply, please email Sarah Hutton at with a brief outline of why you would like to work on the project and the time you think you will be able to contribute. Informal enquiries are also very welcome at the same email. We have to protect the security of the collection, so we will be asking for proof of your address. We will be selecting on the basis of building a team of volunteers with a mixture of experience and interests.