Yorkshire’s famous flautist

By Holly Webb

Everyday an unmistakable sound is heard outside Leeds Train Station, known by the more frequent commuters as ‘Rat’

Anyone who is a regular rail-user in Leeds knows City Square very well. They know which way to look when navigating the bewilderment of one-way lanes, they know the routes to avoid the intermittent match-day crowds, and they know Rat.


For years, Rat has positioned himself on City Square, playing his flute, and entertaining the onlookers. The wall closest to his spot is lined with cuddly toys, and you can hear the squeal of his recorded-cross-flute from Pret.

When asked about his toys he was adamant that they were not for sale. “They just attract attention don’t they?” he said.

“I’ve lived here 28 years” he said, “a lot has changed. Some of these buildings weren’t even here back then”.

He added that the new buildings were not to his taste. “I wish there were some nicer buildings…ones that fit with the older architecture…the university buildings are not that nice-looking especially”.

His favourite thing about Leeds is “definitely the shops. The shops, the markets and the charity shops. You find interesting things a lot of the time.”

Comments online show Rat’s notoriosity. One person saying he looks like he has taken up the identity “of a snake charmer, dancing and swaying around. You can hear him play that instrument from the top of the street”.

Another added, “he brightens my day every time I walk past”.

He told LeedsHacks that – contrary to what people believe – he is not homeless, he just likes playing his flute.

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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