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Many of our students have flourished upon leaving the school, with many now leading successful careers across a variety of industries including: academia, sports, the arts, science, business, law and medicine.

If any Old Cowperians would like to get in touch, they can e-mail the group (membership@oldcowperians.com) or contact through the social media pages listed on the website www.oldcowperians.com/.

Notable Alumni

Careers in Academia:

Selig Brodetsky

Selig Brodetsky (1888 – 1954)

Professor and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics from 1924-48 at the University of Leeds, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Physics. Past President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Jacob Bronowski (1908 – 1974)

Mathematician, biologist, historian and Director from 1950-59 of the Coal Research Establishment. Became familiar to the British public through appearances on the BBC television version of The Brains Trust in the late 1950s. Author of The Ascent of Man and writer & presenter of the BBC documentary series of the same name. He is seen above, sitting in Central Foundation’s Great Hall while revisiting the school in 1973.

Aubrey Diamond

Prof Aubrey Diamond

Distinguished lawyer, teacher and public servant. Professor of Law from 1987-99 at University of Notre Dame, and President from 1988-90 of the British Insurance Law Association.

William Fishman (1921 – 2014)

Known universally as Bill, Mr Fishman was a historian and fellow of Oxford University. He used his position as historian to shine a light on the individual stories of the East End working class, particularly Jewish tailors and Irish dockers, in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Dr Nyman Levin

Director from 1959-65 of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment

Ashley Montagu

Prof Ashley Montagu (1905 – 1999)

Anthropoligist known for his works on genetics, paleontology, and other life science topics. Professor and chair of the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University (1949-55)

Gilbert Morgan

Sir Gilbert Morgan OBE (1872 – 1940)

(1872-1940) Research chemist. Former Mason Professor of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham and author of numerous works

Prof David Peacock

Professor of Chemistry from 1922-40 at the University of Rangoon (now the University of Yangon, Burma) and chemical adviser from 1942-5 to RAF Bomber Command

Daniel Pedoe

(1910-1998) Mathematician and Geometer. First influenced in his love of geometry by headmaster Mr M Gibbins and a textbook by Godfrey and Siddons. He was successful at the “ten plus” examination and subsequently won a Scholarship to study mathematics at Cambridge University. Author of various core books on mathematics and geometry, some of which have remained in print for decades and been translated into several languages

Prof Norman Rydon

Professor of Chemistry from 1957-77 at the University of Exeter

Alan Stuart

Prof Alan Stuart

Professor of Statistics from 1966-82 at the LSE (London School of Economics) Served as Pro-Director of the school from 1976-9

Reuben Smeed CBE (1909-1976)

Statistician and transport researcher. Proposed Smeed’s Law, an empirical rule that broke the usual link between environmental factors and road accidents. Was awarded a CBE in 1966. Became the first Professor of Traffic Studies at University College London in 1967 where he taught until his death

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Careers in Arts:

Irvine Arditti

Irvine Arditti

(Born 1953) Violinist. Studied at Royal Academy of Music. Joined the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and after two years, at just 25, years old became its Co-Concert Master. Left the orchestra in 1980 to devote more time to the Arditti Quartet. Given an honourary F.R.A.M from the Royal Academy of Music for distinguished work. In 1999 The Arditti Quartet was awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for ‘lifetime achievement’ in music.

David Barbarossa

David Barbarossa

Drummer & percussionist with Adam And The Ants and Bow Wow Wow. Instrumental in creating the “Tribal” drumming trend that was popular among British and some American bands, circa 1979–83

Barney Clark

Barney Clark

Actor. Began acting in school plays and appeared in the 2001 film Lawless Heart alongside Bill Nighy. Successfully auditioned for the title role of Oliver Twist (2005), directed by Roman Polanski, beating 800 children

Stanley Chapple

Stanley Chapple

(1900-87) Pianist, conductor and educationist. Director of the University of Washington School of Music from 1948-62

Danny Foster

Danny Foster

Singer and television personality. Appeared in the inaugural series of the British television talent-show Popstars, going on to become a founder member of pop group Hear’say

Henry Goodman

Henry Goodman

(Born 1950) Theatre actor. Trained at RADA alongside Jonathan Pryce. Awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1993, 1998 and 2000 for Best Actor in ”Assassins“, “The Merchant of Venice” and “Chicago”. He was also awarded the London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama) in 1999 for Best Actor in “The Merchant of Venice.” Other work includes: (Theatre) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Yes, Prime Minister; (TV) Cold LazarusLondon’s Burning (Film) Taking Woodstock; The Damned United. Goodman returned as guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 2012.

Charlie G Hawkins

Charlie G. Hawkins

Actor. Most notable role is on BBC soap opera Eastenders (2004-2011)

Martin Kemp

Martin Kemp

Actor and musician. Best known as the bassist with Spandau Ballet and role on BBC soap opera Eastenders. Mr Kemp returned to open the Sixth Form building.

Sidney Paget (1860 – 1908)

Sidney Paget was an illustrator most famous for his depictions of Sherlock Holmes, which accompanied the original publication of the stories in The Strand magazine – he is credited with adding the iconic deerstalker cap and Inverness cape Holmes wheres, as it is not mentioned in Conan Doyle’s descriptions. According to The Central school magazine, “his note-books were adorned with sketches of Masters and School-fellows” and his brother Henry was also an artist, having painted the iconic portrait of Headmaster Dr Wormell which still hangs in the school boardroom.

Woolf Phillips

Woolf Phillips (1919 – 2003)

Orchestra leader. Epitomised postwar big band style on the radio and at the London Palladium. He performed with some of America’s greatest names – the young Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis Jr

Ronnie Scott

Ronnie Scott (1927 – 1996)

Jazz tenor saxophonist, band leader and founder of the world-renowned club Ronnie Scott’s. Amongst the most highly rated and universally recognised of all British jazz musicians. He was appointed OBE in 1981.

Walter Slaughter (1860 – 1908)

Walter Slaughter was a composer and conductor of West End musicals, operas and children’s shows and a contemporary of Gilbert & Sullivan. After leaving Central Foundation, he played violin in the orchestra of the Grecian Theatre and soon rose to conductorship and during his career, conducted nearly every important theatre orchestra in London. His last venture was musical director of the Coliseum. He produced many popular works during his time, most notably a much-revived musical of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The French Maid. He kept close contact with the school after leaving, and returned several times to watch the school and Old Boys’ Club’s perform his works – during The French Maid he was even persuaded to conduct one number personally.


Christos Tolera

Christos Tolera

Actor, artist, model & vocalist with 1980′s pop group Blue Rondo A La Turk. By 17 had already been photographed for the The Face and I.D. Currently working as a painter and frequently produces art exhibitions.

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Careers in Business:

Montague Arnold

Chairman from 1971-81 of BPC Publishing, and Chief Executive from 1982-4 of the Property Services Agency

Paul Moody

Paul Moody

Businessman and leader who has risen to the top of some of Britain’s most recognisable companies, most notably Britvic PLC (CEO 2005-2012), Pets At Home PLC, the Johnson Service Group. Moody returned as a guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 2014.


Max Rayne

Max Rayne, Baron Rayne (1918 – 2003)

Property developer, supporter of medical, educational, religious and arts charities. Set up Rayne Foundation in 1962. Knighted in 1969 and made a life peer. Created a Chevalier of theLégion d’Honneur in 1973, later promoted to Officier

Leonard Sainer (1909 – 1991)

Enjoyed two successful careers, as a solicitor and retailer. Helped to set up Sears plc. Established The Leonard Sainer Trust in his will, which sponsers several children’s activities

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Careers in Media, Publishing & Writing

Sir Ernest Benn

Sir Ernest Benn CBE (1875 – 1954)

Publisher, writer and political publicist. Uncle of Labour politician Tony Benn and brother to fellow Cowperian Wedgwood Benn. Published over twenty books and an equivalent amount of pamphlets propagating his ideas from the mid-1920s until his death. A member of the Reform Club and a founder of what would become the Society for Individual Freedom. A principal and manager of the publishing firm Benn Brothers, later Ernest Benn Ltd. He returned to the school as guest speaker on Founder’s Day in 1932.


Paul Brunton (1898 – 1981)

Journalist, author, mystic and traveller. Born Raphael Hurst, Brunton was a bookseller and author who, after serving in the First World War, travelled to India and published many books popularising eastern religions and practices, particularly Mentalism and yoga, to the west.

Jeffrey Caine

Jeffrey Caine

(Born 1944) Professional writer and screenwriter. Educated at the Universities of Sussex and Leeds. Taught English before becoming a professional writer. After writing for TV, during which he produced his own series “The Chief“, concentrated on screenplays. Worked on the script for Pierce Bronsan’s James Bond debut in 1995′s “GoldenEye.” Then wrote the screenplay to award-winning film “Inside I’m Dancing“  (2004) and was nominated for an Academy Award for his adaptation of “The Constant Gardener” (2005)

Lee Hurst

Lee Hurst

Comedian & broadcaster. Best known as a regular panellist on the BBC Two comedy sports quiz They Think It’s All Over (1995-8)

Trevor Nelson

Trevor Nelson MBE

Broadcaster and DJ. Presented the first UK national R&B show Rhythm Nation on BBC Radio 1 in 1996. Awarded a Gold Lifetime Achievement Award at the SONY Radio Academy Awards 2010.  Appointed MBE for his contribution to the Millennium Volunteers programme

Reggie Yates

Reggie Yates

Actor, TV presenter, radio DJ. Presented Top of the Pops with Fearne Cotton. Yates returned as guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 2011.

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Careers in Public Service:

Robert Alexander Briggs (1868 – 1963)

Inspired by a tragedy where 183 children lost their lives he invented the panic bolt. This quick, secure exit system is still found today on all fire exit doors. Built a locomotive used in his town’s first miniture railway and drove the steam train every summer until he was 88. He kept active helping young people develop engineering skills until his death

Air Commodore William Wedgewood Benn, 1st Viscount Stansgate DSO, DFC, PC (1877 – 1960)

Wedgwood Benn was born in Hackney and, like his elder brother Ernest Benn, attended Central Foundation Boys’ School in the final decade of the 19th century. After reading at University College, London he followed his father, Sir John Benn, into politics. While his father stood for the London County Council, Wedgwood was elected to the House of Commons in 1906, making him the first Cowperian to become an MP. He had an active political career, being elected first in Tower Hamlets, before moving to Leith, Aberdeen North and Manchester. He was also Secretary of State for India in 1929 under Ramsay MacDonald and, like fellow old boy Kingsley Wood, was Secretary of State for Air in 1945 under Clement Attlee. Despite being 37 when the First World War broke out, he joined the Royal Flying Corps and also served in the RAF Volunteers for the Second World War. He was succeeded by his second son, Tony Benn, who campaigned to renounce his father’s peerage in order to remain in the House of Commons where he was an MP for 47 years.

Benn returned as guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 1909, reinforcing in his speech that a boy loses little by not being born into a high social sphere. He also quipped, “I regard sleep as one of the first pleasures of life.”

Sir Kingsley Wood (1881 – 1943)

Howard Kingsley Wood was a solicitor who advocated fair legal representation for those who could not afford it before entering politics. He was in charge of pensions, championing a Ministry of Health and becoming Postmaster General. His final position was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Winston Churchill’s coalition government. He devised Pay As You Earn Tax to counter the huge increase in public expenditure during his time, as part of the war effort, but died on the day it was announced to the Commons.

Wood returned as guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 1925. In his speech speech he advised the boys not to let their “wishbone be where their backbone ought to be.”

Baron Lewis Silkin (1889 – 1972)

Lewis Silkin was born into a family of Jewish Lithuanian refugees with six younger siblings. With a determined attitude he won a scholarship to Oxford University, however his headmaster reputedly wrote in his report to the University “this boy will not benefit from a university education”. Instead he worked as a tally clerk in the London Docks before becoming a solicitors’ clerk. In 1925 he became a member of the London County Council, eventually becoming deputy leader during the Second World War. He was elected MP for Peckham in 1936 and became Minister of Town and Country Planning under Clement Attlee, serving alongside fellow old boy Wedgwood Benn, where he piloted the New Towns Act of 1945 and created National Parks in the Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. He became 1st Baron Silkin in 1950 and sat in the House of Lords. In the same year his son John established the law firm Lewis Silkin and Partners, which Lewis joined soon after.

Richard Seifert

Richard Seifert (1910 – 2001)

Architect who designed Centre PointTower 42 (formally the tallest building in the city of London), Drapers Gardens, King’s Reach Tower, as well as numerous other towers

George Webb

Brig George Webb

Commanded the 1st Royal Tank Regiment from 1942-1945

Dennis Wesil

Dennis Wesil

Educated at London University. In charge of developing the UK’s postal code system. Occupied a wide variety of senior positions in the British Post Office, being latterly a member of the Post Office Management Board and Senior Director of Postal Services. Specialist adviser to commercial and industrial management consultants

The wider world will not know of Dennis’s work in the late 1960s and the part he played on the newly introduced two tier postal system shortly after its introduction or about his role in the development of a corporate strategy for the Post Office. Each day Dennis remains unknown to millions of people who address a letter with a post code as the man who was responsible for the creation, planning and introduction of a system that almost fifty years later serves the population so well today.

Anthony Grabiner

Lord Anthony Grabiner, QC (1945 – present)

Baron Grabiner left LSE with a first class honours in law before being called to the Bar in 1968. In 1981 he was made Queen’s Counsel before becoming a Deputy High Court Judge and has been involved in much of the highest profile commercial litigation that has been fought in London, specialising in banking & finance, oil & gas, civil fraud, competition and company disputes. Most recently, in 2011 he was chaired the management and standards committee established by News Corporation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Grabiner returned as guest speaker for Founder’s Day in 2013.

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Careers in Science & Medicine

John Forrest (1918 – 1944)

Pioneer of preventative dentistry. President of the British Society of Periodontology, British Endodontic Society, and Metropolitan Branch of the British Dental Association. International work included the European Dental Society and honorary membership of the American Dental Association; at the time of his death he was president of theInternational College of Dentists.

Max Hamilton

Prof Max Hamilton

First President of the British Association Of Psychopharmacology, inventor of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and former President of the British Psychological Society

James Loring CBE

Director from 1967-80 of the Spastics Society, and President from 1978-84 of the International Cerebral Palsy Society. Author of Teaching The Cerebral Palsied Child (1965)

Leslie Phillips OBE (1922-1991)

Engineer who, alongside Bill Watt and Bill Johnson, developed carbon fibres in 1966 which went on to be used in aerospace, car mechanics, medicine, chemistry and other industries.

Maurice Zucrow (1899-1975)

After arriving in London from Kiev, Zucrow attended Central Foundation before moving to the US where he specialised in jet propulsion and became an instrumental part of the space race, having taught Neil Armstrong. The Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Centre at Purdue University, where he did most of his work, was renamed the The Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories in his honour.


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Careers in Sport:

John Halls

John Halls

Footballer, began career playing for Arsenal (2000-03)

Karim Kerbouche

Karim Kerbouche

Ice Hockey player, widely recognised as the creator of Algerian ice hockey. Put into action the Arab Ice Hockey Association aimed at aiding the progress of ice hockey in the Arab World

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