Cambridge. What can you say about this city? Well it’s old for a start. Very old. Founded in the 1st Century if you can believe it. And is this starting to sound like someone’s poorly researched exam paper to anyone else? We could go on and on about why Cambridge is so lovely, and so vibrant, and so cultured, and so historic, but the fact you’re on our website means you probably know all this, or have been recommended to look into it by someone.

Here’s the thing: any city that has been around in some capacity for nearly 2000 years has probably got a lot going on, and with Cambridge that’s an understatement.

Degrees Of Cambridge

So when you come here and experience one of our excellent tours down the river (……just saying), you will be learning way too many things about Cambridge.

For example, seeing as we have the 4th oldest university in the world, this gives a rather substantial influx of notable alumni over the last couple of millennia.

It’s so ridiculous that you could play Six Degrees Of Separation with people from or who studied at Cambridge and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any subject, creation, idea or theory – practically anything – in western civilisation that isn’t somehow connected to this city within (at most) six degrees. So, let’s do that. Now.

Today’s World Experience

Take for example, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Well, Assange would contact the editor-in-chief at The Guardian regarding the press coverage of leaking classified documents as far back as 2007. That man was ALAN RUSBRINGER, graduate of Magdalene College, which is the first of the 7 to 8 constituent Colleges that you will see on our scenic guided tours down the river. You probably know the rest – history in the making!

Of course you could also argue that Wikileaks is a website, on the internet, on a computer. And a massive part of today’s society. So, when it comes to this, you have CHARLES BABBAGE, alumni of Peterhouse and inventor of the first mechanical computer back in the 19th century. Also ALAN TURING, of King’s College, whose work on the foundations of computer science and artificial intelligence have shaped the world we now live in. Two massive names!

Just these names have broadly covered how society today as we know it one way or another is connected and influenced by to Cambridge.


Let’s try Six Degrees Of Separation to Cambridge, that is totally random and not constructed for this content whatsoever. This is really in-the-moment and is definitely not meticulously researched and thought out in the slightest. Okay, let’s think of another . . . . . . slaves.

The whole established slave trade that was happening, not that long ago. Well when it comes to the abolition of the slave trade internationally, that is in part due to The Society For The Abolition Of The Slave Trade (catchy name). This society, founded in 1787, first consisted of twelve rather influential figures. One of the founding members, THOMAS CLARKSON, was a graduate of St.John’s College, the second constituent college you will pass on our guided tours down the river. Another notable member of this society, who then would be fundamental in the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, is WILLIAM WILBERFORCE. Again, also a noted graduate of St. John’s College. So while St.John’s might not be the most liked among the colleges, there’s no denying their alumni having an immensely positive effect on the world at large.

Bottle Caps

Once you pass St. John’s College, you then see Trinity College, and when it comes to this game of Six Degrees Of Separation in relation to Cambridge, using Trinity is just cheating. The notable alumni alone and their influence on the world is so vast and so ridiculous that you’re just gonna have to take a guided river tour with us to find out about it (how’s my not-so-subtle marketing ploy?) so let’s try and make it a little less easy. I’ve used a random object generator to give me the object…..bottle caps. All right let’s see.

Okay, bottle caps are a form of currency in the Fallout video games.

  • The currency in England is the Pound Sterling.
  • The Pound Sterling is produced by The Royal Mint.
  • Until 1870, there was also a Master of The Mint, a position now secondary to the Chancellor Of The Exchequer.
  • From 1700-1727, the position of Master of the Mint was held by
  • And where did Isaac Newton study?….Trinity College.

There were go, six degrees of separation from bottle caps to Trinity. Not as intensely connected as the others but you may not have known that about Newton. Apparently he took his position very seriously, considering it an act of God to protect the mint of British currency, even having forgers hung and disemboweled in public.

What a nice man!

The College Backs Who’s Who!


We should probably also mention ERNEST RUTHERFORD as well – widely recognised as the ‘Father of nuclear physics’ and also the chap that we named ourselves after – chosen for his direct relationship to the founders of our punting company.


Next on our accredited tour, you glide from Trinity College to Trinity Hall, much like how James Bond actors go from one masculine white guy, to another, and another, and another, with Timothy Dalton slipping in there somehow.

The most recent James Bond as of writing this (Daniel Craig) has his degrees of separation from Cambridge reduced drastically by the fact his wife is Trinity Hall alumni and Oscar-winning actress RACHEL WEISZ. She’s a star in her own right, with roles in The Mummy, The Lobster, The Favourite, The Constant Gardener, and The Light Between Oceans. Putting all those titles together sounds like an abstract sequel to The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.


Also something something black holes something something Stephen Hawking. There covered that, on we go…


After the Trinities, we have Clare College. I’ll attempt to not mention their most famous graduate in recent years: Sir David Attenborough. Oh wait I just did……moving on.

Movie Connections

Instead, we’ll keep going with the movie connections (because scientists get enough credit as it is, obviously….) and focus on some classics.

I’m talking The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 2, Shrek Forever After, Grown Ups, Jack & Jill, and The Death Of Stalin. Okay the last is actually fantastic and you should definitely check it out. Well, quite a bit or just additional music for these classic of modern cinema were written by the composer, CHRISTOPHER WILLIS, another graduate of Clare College. He also co-writes the music for the HBO comedy Veep, which I heard is very good but who owns a TV these days??

Rubber Ducks

All right, let’s go back to the random object generator……..Rubber duck! Really? Fine, short and sweet – let’s get over with:

  • A rubber duck is an inanimate representation of a real duck.
  • Real ducks can be found on many rivers in England.
  • One of the many rivers in England is the Cam, lined with the private gardens and lands owned by many of the Colleges.


And the most famous views on the Cam River, aside from the Bridge of Sighs, Mathematical Bridge, St.John’s New Court, Mill Pond, and Clare Gardens, is ……. King’s College.

Now we already mentioned Alan Turing, and he is definitely a name that should be mentioned in great respect, and then mentioned again. For a change though, we’ll go for another graduate of King’s who isn’t so well known but is rather significant.

So you know parliament? That government we have in the UK that sometimes does stuff? You know how the leader is the Prime Minister (although ironically most who are elected are often past their prime)?

Well the very first Prime Minister parliament had is often being credited to a young lad from King’s College who gained the de-facto position at the youthful age of 45. His name is Robert Walpole, and he gained the position in 1721. And that should get you some extra points at the next pub quiz.

You’re welcome.

The Stars of Queens’

So, this game of Six Degrees Of Separation, I incorporated to spice up this piece of web content is getting out of hand. So let’s do a degrees of separation daisy chain of entertainers for the graduates of Queens’ College to round things off nicely. *ahem*……

Queens’ College refers to two queens in particular, its founders: Margaret of Anjou, and Elizabeth Woodville. But a third self-proclaimed queen would rise to prominence in the 70’s and 80’s in the form of, STEPHEN FRY.

Stephen Fry would be President of the Footlights comedy group, one of the most prestigious theatre groups in Cambridge. Another President, and fellow Queens’ grad, was the star of The Inbetweeners and Friday Night Dinner, SIMON BIRD.

The Inbetweeners started in 2008, the same year the film adaptation of The Kite Runner was nominated for best foreign film at the Oscars, which starred another Queens’ graduate: KHALID ABDALLA.

Khalid Abdalla has also had starring roles in films such as United 93 and Green Zone, films both directed by another Queens’ graduate most famous for directing three Jason Bourne films and Captain Phillips: PAUL GREENGRASS.

Paul Greengrass went to Queens’ College at the same time as the director of My Cousin Rachel (starring Rachel Weisz), Hyde Park On Hudson (starring Olivia Colman, another graduate from Homerton College in Cambridge) and the famous rom-com Notting Hill (which had Hugh Bonneville, who studied at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, in a supporting role). That man being: ROGER MICHELL.

And then, Roger Michell released Hyde Park in Hudson in 2012. The same year another graduate of Queens’ College joined the ever-growing cast of Game Of Thrones, after her break-out role in cult TV show Skins: HANNAH MURRAY.


So there we go, a little trip down the river with all the constituent Colleges that you will see, and a little idea of the fun you can have connecting the influence their students have had in the past, present and possible future. This is barely the tip of the iceberg, in fact it’s more like a snowflake on the face of Mount Everest, when it comes to naming every notable graduate from the University of Cambridge – it’s a time consuming feat.

If you want to know more, then use the internet, it’s what it’s there for and be sure to double check all your sources.

Alternatively, if you wanna learn more while taking a fantastic tour down the iconic vistas of the River Cam, hearing information from a handsome, sophisticated, well-spoken and knowledgeable tour guide, then you should be thinking about booking a tour with us. Rutherford’s. The website that you’re currently on has the best ticket offers – saving £5 a ticket versus the on-the-day price.  There we go.

Remember us for an accredited tour, be it a shared or private experience, champagne tour, romantic tours, romantic champagne tours. We’ve something for any occasion.

We also take suggestions and can arrange a bespoke service so get in touch by email at or on 01223 322200.

On top of these services, we’ll be expanding and experimenting all through the year with events and variations on deals, so you might wanna keep us on your radar for something that’ll tickle your fancy.

If you’re flexible on when you come punting or like fantastic photographs, follow us on Instagram for inspirational punting shots and flash offers… 

Until then, I hope you learned something new – it sure makes life interested, and see you on the river!

AUTHOR: Maxim Thompson