‘The Role and Value of Parks in the 21st Century – Insights from research’

Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research

Thursday 13 July 2017, 9.30am – 5pm
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, Westminster, London

On Thursday 13th July, the University of Leeds hosted a major one-day national conference entitled ‘The Future of Public Parks’ at The British Academy in London. The event brought together academics from diverse disciplines, funding bodies, policy-makers and practitioners from the across the public, voluntary and private sectors. The conference provided a timely opportunity to foster a research-informed, policy and practice orientated dialogue about park futures and offered a platform for advancing public debate in light of the findings and recommendations of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry. Importantly, it provided a unique opportunity for multi-disciplinary, inter-professional and cross-sectoral debate that enabled delegates to explore common questions, mutual strategies and shared interest in promoting the social role and value of public parks.

Download the conference report here.



‘The Verb’

Ian McMillan’s ‘Friday night cabaret of the word’ examines our changing relationship with the city with Katy Layton-Jones, Jean Binta Breeze, and Karen McCarthy Woolf.






‘Promoting Britishness: maritime exhibitions 1851 – 1924’

Caird Short-Term Research Fellowship. 

Building on my past research into the forging of civic and national identities in Britain, my current research examines the manner and extent to which international expositions and specialist trade and maritime exhibitions were used to promote specific but diverse notions of ‘Britishness’ between 1851 and 1951. I will spend my Caird Short-Term Research Fellowship exploring the ways in which maritime exhibitions contributed to this process at a local, national, and international level. To this end, the main portion of the three-month fellowship will be spent researching the items exhibited, the architecture of exhibitions spaces, the administration and curatorship of the events themselves, and the promotion and coverage of the exhibitions in the popular press and material culture.

In general, ‘maritime exhibitions’, which include fisheries exhibitions and naval exhibitions, have been neglected by historians and art historians alike. Where exhibitions have been considered in any detail, scholars have focused typically on displays of maritime painting and/or engravings. Rare exceptions, such as Geoffrey Swinney’s article on the Edinburgh International Fisheries Exhibition of 1882 (2004) and Steele and Benbough-Jackson’s work on the Liverpool Shipperies Exhibition of 1886 (2012) are limited in their scope and focus. For the most part, academic scholarship has overlooked the social and cultural significance of national and international maritime exhibitions and festivals. My current research seeks to redress this preterition and to recognize maritime exhibitions and festivals within the history of international exhibitions and World’s Fairs. My research will examine influential events, such as the Great International Fisheries Exhibition of 1883 and the Naval and Military Exhibition of 1901, as well as less well-known examples, including British contributions to the International Maritime Exhibition, Havre 1868 and National Maritime Exhibition in Cadiz 1887. The main body of the research will focus on the period 1851 (Great Exhibition) to 1924 (British Empire Exhibition), with a brief survey of events beyond these chronological parameters to provide a broader contextualization of the subject.

The research is part of a wider project that explores the exhibitions, international expositions and World’s Fairs of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as arenas in which local, regional, national and continental hierarchies were established and renegotiated.

The Collections of the Royal Museums Greenwich and the Caird Library in particular, contain an extensive range of material pertaining to these events. A provisional survey of material has revealed items ranging from catalogues to photographs, engravings, and the unpublished papers of Royal Commissions for British displays at foreign events, such as the Dutch Shipping Exhibition of 1913. The research has significant implications for the interpretation of specific events, maritime exhibitions in general, and the wider naval and imperial projects of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


‘The Parks Conundrum’, Context, 133: March, 2014.

It seems that since they first opened, our public parks have been under threat. This article in Context, the journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, addresses the changing way in which value has been attributed to public parks and highlights some of the greatest challenges facing their protection and enrichment.

Journal website








‘Topographical Prints and the Image of Bristol, 1795 – 1860’

The Regional Historian

Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, provincial British towns proved to be an increasingly compelling subject for artists, engravers and the general public. Publications ranging from the popular Pocket Magazine and high-quality Copper-Plate Magazine to William Daniell’s A Voyage round Great Britain (1813) and Britton’s Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities (1828) depicted rapidly-changing landscapes for a readership hungry to acquaint themselves with their nation’s great towns and cities. One such location was Bristol and its environs. Even prior to 1700 Bristol had enjoyed the privilege of being one of the most depicted cities in England, but with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came a massive diversification in the subjects and perspectives displayed. This article examines the ways in which antiquarian prestige was supplanted by imperial grandeur and modernity in images of the city of Bristol.



Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

Between 2008 and 2010, Katy was a regular contributor to Who Do You Think You? Are Magazine. Her articles included: ‘Love Behind the Bushes’ (a history of love and sex in British public parks), ‘A Dying Business’ (funeral warehouses in Victorian and Edwardian Britain), ‘Illustrious Illusions’ (Panoramania in Britain and abroad), and ‘Art for Everyone’ (the Manchester Art-Treasures Exhibition of 1857).