Cultural historian and historical consultant Katy Layton-Jones grew up in South Manchester. Originally an art historian, she received her B.A. in fine art and art history from Goldsmiths, University of London. As a postgraduate, she changed both subject and institution and completed an M.Phil. in eighteenth-century history at the University of Cambridge. She remained at Cambridge for her Ph.D., which focused on popular images of British towns in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Katy is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.
In 2006, Katy moved to the University of Liverpool where she was engaged on the Liverpool Parks and Open Spaces research project, co-funded and supported by the ESRC, English Heritage, and Liverpool City Council. Her first book, Places of Health and Amusement was published by English Heritage in 2008. Her monograph, Beyond the Metropolis: the image of urban Britain 1780 – 1880 was published by Manchester University Press in 2016.
Katy has published widely for academic, public, and professional audiences. Her academic publications include: ‘Misread Landscapes: Victorian public parks and the industrial imagination’ in Dick and Mitchell (eds.), Gardens and Green Spaces in the West Midlands since 1700 (2018), ‘A commanding view: Liverpool’s public parks 1722 – 1870’, Cultural and Social History (2013), ‘A legacy of ambivalence: industrial exhibitions, pleasure parks and urban green space’ in Itzen and Müller (eds.), Industry and Industrial Heritage in the Twentieth Century (2013), and ‘The synthesis of Town and Trade: visualising provincial urban identity 1800 – 1851’, Urban History (2008); In 2014 Katy authored the National Review of Research Priorities for Urban Parks, Designed Landscapes and Open Spaces (English Heritage, 2014) followed by History of Public Park Funding and Management (1820 – 2010) (Historic England, 2016), and Uncertain Prospects: public parks in the new age of austerity (The Gardens Trust, 2016). Katy has been a regular contributor to the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, for which she has written on subjects including: sex in Victorian public parks, funeral warehouses, the Art-Treasures Exhibition, panoramas, and war cemeteries. Her media appearances include BBC Radio 4’s Making History and The Verb and the BBC television series, People’s Palaces: The Golden Age of Civic Architecture. She has given public lectures at the Southbank Centre, Imperial War Museum, and Rhodes College, Memphis (USA).
Since 2008, Katy has been based at the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, where she now holds a research post. Katy currently lectures for the Open University and has taught subjects ranging from the history of London to Worlds’ Fairs, urban conservation, and the birth of consumer society. For the past two years she has served on the advisory panel for the AHRC-funded The Future Prospects of Urban Parks research project at the University of Leeds.
Katy divides her time between London and Oxfordshire.
Katy’s first job was as a Saturday girl at Greggs the Bakers. She earned £2.50 an hour but got discounted buns.
Katy represented her college on University Challenge. She maintains that their failure to win was due to an indefensible number of questions about chemical compounds.
In 2001 Katy rowed in Corpus Christi College’s women’s VIII. This is the only documented case of her participating in competitive sport since 1987.