The Grand Order of Water Rats was founded in 1889 as a charitable organisation with a membership limited to 180 long-serving male members of the entertainment industry, plus 20 Companion Rats, who currently include the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Prince Michael of Kent. A separate Order – The Grand Order of Lady Ratlings ‘a group of like minded show business ladies’ – was established in 1929, with Companion Ratling The Princess Royal. Brother Rats meet fortnightly – their latest meeting, or lodge, is pictured above.
Past ‘King Rats’ have included such illustrious names as Dan Leno (King Rat 1891, 1892, 1897), Bud Flanagan (King Rat 1945, 1951), Tommy Trinder (King Rat 1955, 1963, 1965), Danny La Rue (King Rat 1987), Roy Hudd (King Rat 1989, 2000), John Inman (King Rat 1993) and Joe Pasquale (King Rat 2012).
The current holder of the post of King Rat is comedian, Adger Brown, pictured above with Brother Rat Vincent Hayes, attending a recent event at Brick Lane Music Hall held by the British Music Hall Society.
Some of the newest recruits to the Grand Order in recent months have been comedians Mike Doyle and Johnny Clark, singers Frank Ifield, Alfie Boe and Jimmy Osmond and both ‘Hairy Bikers’. Pictured above, Brother Rats, Andrew Robley, Alfie Boe, Past King Rat Rick Wakeman, Roy Wood and Vincent Hayes.
During this year’s pantomime for grown-ups, Aladdin, our stella Genie, Ben Goffe, was made a member of the Order, joining his father, Rusty. Pictured above at his first lodge meeting with fellow Brick Lane Music Hall performers, Ben with Rusty Goffe, and behind them, left to right, John Styles, Paul James, Vincent Hayes, Andrew Robley.
Initially created to assist performers and their dependants who because of old age or disability are unable to work, the Grand Order of Water Rats also supports the wider community with donations to such organisations as Guy’s Hospital, Roy Castle’s Cause for Hope, Moorfields Eye Hospital, The Order of St. John and Brinsworth House. The Order recently donated £10,000 to The Evelina London Children’s Hospital towards the creation of a musical therapy room.
‘Brother Rats’ turned out in force to attend a Charity Night held at Brick Lane Music Hall when all proceeds of the evening were donated to the Order. Left to right, front row, Chas McDevitt, Kaplan Kaye, Paul James, Roy Hudd, and Vincent Hayes. Behind them, Jess Conrad, Ian Richards, Graham Cole, Derek Martin, Andrew Robley.
As well as organising its own fundraising events, The Grand Order of Water Rats is a member of the Combined Theatrical Charities. Under the title ‘Acting For Others’ the CTC organises bucket collections every year in theatres all over the country which this year will run from 22nd October to 4th November.