The Galley Club

Galley Club history

The Galley Club is 85 years old this year 2018AD, having been established in 1933. Since the 8th March 2016, we have been holding our speaker events in the famous and iconic setting of The Water Rats in Gray’s Inn Road. This venue has had a pivotal and historic role in not only the music business, but also politics - which you can read more about here.

Since the premises were bought by “The Grand Order of Water Rats”, they have counted many notables in their membership, such as Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, Norman Wisdom and Paul Daniels. Current membership includes Lionel Blair, Frank Bruno MBE, Barry Cryer OBE, Princes Philip and Charles, Neil Innes, Ian Lavender, Neil Morrissey, Brian May CBE, Nicholas Parsons OBE, LLD, Rick Wakeman, Roy Wood and Mike Yarwood OBE.  Read more about them on Wikipedia and watch this fascinating filmed look behind the curtains from 2012 when Joe Pasquale became King Rat. We are very happy to contribute to the history of The Water Rats as a venue.

To mark the 75th Anniversary of The Galley Club, Derek Albiston published an article in December 2007 in Publishing News, a trade weekly:

As well as being the 500th anniversary of the first printed work published in Scotland (Caxton’s effort was 31 years earlier), 2008 marked a significant anniversary for one of the longest established publishing industry social groups: The Galley Club. The name originates from the days of hot-metal typesetting, when the newly-cast type was placed on long metal trays, known as galleys, for proofing prior to reading and, later, for make-up into pages…

To place this event in your historical consciousness, it was the same year Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in Germany; the Bauhaus School in Berlin closed; Eric Gill was in his sculpting period; the first King Kong appeared on the screen starring Fay Wray; the first singing telegram was sung in New York; and Sir Michael Caine was born (not a lot of people know all that).

The framework of the club is built round a monthly programme of meetings from October to June. Guest speakers are invited to talk informatively on their specialist areas in the trade, to an audience which is drawn from all areas of the printing and publishing industry and allied trades. The membership includes publishing people of all departments – printers, distributors, designers, typesetters, paper suppliers, freelancers – and the range is continually changing and expanding. Equally, the variety of speakers is reflected in this eclectic mix and members are encouraged to bring along interested guests for the occasion.

Read more in the article…Publishing News to find out more about our history and sign up to our newsletter to keep informed about what we are doing now.

Leonard Chave, Galley Club Honorary Life Member, recollects:

My first contact with the Club was in 1956, when I joined the Overseas Editorial Department of OUP, London, as production assistant to Tim Wilkinson, who was its current Secretary. Of course, he made sure that I attended meetings, which were held at Monotype House in New Fetter Lane, usually preceded by gathering in the Printer’s Devil opposite. The Club was at that time the meeting ground for everybody in book printing and production who was anybody, including such luminaries as Hugh Williamson, James Moran, Kenneth Day, Beatrice Warde and many others whose names will be found in the elegant membership list printed by Mackays of Chatham that I donated some years ago to the Club’s archive collection

Read more in Early days in The Galley Club

The Galley Club Programme 1967-68:

In 1968, the Club meetings were held in the River Room of the National Liberal Club in Whitehall Place at 6.15 p.m. The year’s programme, printed by Mackays of Chatham, shows an extensive list of topics which reflect the discussion points then and would not be out of place now. There is a noted tendency for afternoon visits to paper mills, manufacturers and publishers, including a two-day visit to Jarrold’s in Norwich and Clay’s in Bungay. Some things never change; the annual party was held on Wednesday 17 January 1968. The Chairman was Peter Guy of the Folio Society; Secretary, Thelma Rolfe of Francis Chichester Ltd;  Treasurer, Lionel Scott of Walter Makin Ltd; committee members: Alan Jones of Monotype Corporation; Keith Lilley, Weidenfeld & Nicholson .