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Celebrating 25 Years of Matthew Montague Architects!

Matthew Montague Architects are celebrating 25 years in business. Formed in 1998 by architect Matthew Montague the business has evolved and grown into one of the largest, independent architects’ practices in the region.

The name Montague has long been synonymous with the built environment in Derby and across the Midlands. Derek Montague, Matthew’s father founded Montague Architects in 1969. Matthew worked at his fathers practice for 10 years before starting Matthew Montague Architects (MMA).

Over the past quarter of a century the practice has won over 20 awards for its designs including RIBA regional awards for housing, numerous civic and conservation awards and East Midlands Architects Practice of the Year 2019.

Back in 1998; working from his home office Matthew commenced his first solo commercial project; the refurbishment and extension of Lonsdale House for travel agents, Lonsdale Travel. The project comprised extension and refurbishment, it was at this time that the original mill building was almost doubled in size and the rotunda constructed. In 1998 the building had already been extended, an annexe was built in 1995, designed by Matthew whilst he was working at his father’s practice. The project took a year to complete and was awarded the George Larkin award in the same year for ‘Recognition of a significant improvement to the City of Derby’s Environment.’

Matthew commented, ‘I remember the time vividly, the A6 is one of the main arteries into the city and I wanted to create a visual gateway and Lonsdale Travel wanted a statement building. It was a £450,000 contract which was a healthy budget back then, I remember receiving my first cheque several months into the project, I’ll never forget it and to receive an award was the icing on the cake. Matthew Montague Architects, was off and running!’

In 2002 the practice moved to offices on Friar Gate as it continued to grow, projects in the 2000’s included St Benedicts School, the school Mathew attended, Derby Theatre, Denby Pottery, Derby County Football Clubs World Cup bid, the Clough Taylor Memorial, East Midlands Airport and G F Tomlinson builders HQ in Little Eaton.

Original hand sketch of the Clough Taylor Memorial.

In 2011 the practice merged with AFS Architects, the first job for Repton School also commenced in this year. The association with Repton School spans more than a decade, the practice has worked on many projects for the school including The Quad building, IT Block, the Theatre, Headmasters House and new sports facilities.

Matthew said ‘we have been working with Repton School for over a decade; the dining room at Repton Preparatory School (Foremarke as it was) is one of the buildings that I am most proud of. It was designed by my colleague Daniel Evans and is a fantastic example of the synergy between old and new; it is a modern, practical building set perfectly in a historic setting. We are currently working on several other projects for the school as part of their 5-year improvement plan, it is an association I am very proud of.’

The practice relocated to The Cheese Factory in 2013, a building Matthew purchased from the Buildings at Risk Register and painstakingly restored and converted.

2017 was a busy year for the Practice as it merged with Montague Architects once again strengthening the team and in a sense completing the circle which started back in 1969.

The practice emerged from COVID, staff returned to the office and the practice completed 100 domestic projects, in one year, the most it has ever done.

Recently the practice has worked extensively with The University of Derby on its vision of how the University intends to develop its city centre footprint and improve connectivity between its sites. The City Masterplan focuses on the development of the area around One Friar Gate Square, Ford Street, Bridge Street, Agard Street and Nuns Street, in Derby.

Matthew, said: “it has been a fantastic opportunity to be involved with the masterplan, it is ambitious, forward thinking and will help shape the future development of the University and the city, bringing new opportunities for students and businesses, it’s something we are proud to be involved with.”

Being Derby born and bred and with his father being a founder of Derby Civic Society, Derby’s heritage is very important to Matthew and over the years many heritage and restoration projects have given the practice a highly respected reputation for protecting and enhancing buildings that have contributed to Derby’s historic core. The Practice has designed and stored many shops fronts across the city, more than 20 on The Wardwick and several others on Green Lane. Many of these winning civic awards.

MMA has been working with Derby’s oldest charity; The Liversage Trust for many years. The latest project is the conversion of redundant workshops on Alice Street to create new offices for the charity. Works are due to start on site in the next few weeks.

The Liversage Trust Almshouses, London Road. A program of refurbishment works is currently being worked on.

Slightly controversially MMA redesigned and submitted for planning a scheme for the former La Gondola Restaurant on Osmaston Road in January 2023, the scheme was refused for planning and is currently in for appeal. Matthew Montague commented “we were disappointed that this didn’t receive planning approval back in January, however we believe in the scheme and think it is a good solution for the derelict site”.

Proposed development for La Gondola, Osmaston Road that was refused planning permission.

It’s fair to say over the past 25 years the practice has given the region a legacy of outstanding buildings in a multitude of sectors. Matthew Montague concluded; ‘we are delighted to have made it this far and we thank everyone of our clients for their support.’


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