history

The practice is founded upon the legacy of the distinguished architect and scholar John Alfred Gotch (1852-1942). In 1879 he set up a private architectural practice in the Northamptonshire town of Kettering.

On 1st March 1887 architect Charles Saunders (1858-1944) joined Gotch in a growing partnership. The foundation of this joint enterprise then led to 50 years of prosperity and productivity until their joint retirement on 31st December 1937.

During these 50 years, Gotch and Saunders invited only three other architects to join them as partners. The first was Arthur George Leighton (1867-1943); the second was John Alfred’s nephew Laurence M. Gotch (1881-1964); and the last but most significant was Henry Ralph Surridge (1885-1954). Surridge joined the firm as an office junior in 1899 and was made a partner in 1930. It was at that time that the partnership took on the name by which it has now been known for over 70 years: Gotch, Saunders and Surridge.

The well-known reference to Kettering as “the town that Gotch built” is no exaggeration; it encapsulates the huge contribution Gotch made to his home town. He designed and supervised the construction of shoe factories and warehouses, houses, shops, offices, banks, hospitals, schools, public houses, sports venues, entertainment venues and a temperance hall. Further afield, the Practice was responsible for the design of several WWI memorials, and the alteration and expansion of numerous historic country houses.

In an extraordinary 9-year period following World War I, Gotch and Saunders designed and built over 140 branches for the Midland Bank. Their crowning achievement was the construction of the Bank’s headquarters in Poultry, London (left), in association with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Gotch was renowned as an architectural historian, and a prominent public figure and representative of the architectural profession. He was President of the Architectural Association in 1886-7, Vice-President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1914-9, and President of that Institute in 1923-5: the first provincial architect to be appointed President since the formation of the Institute in 1834.

In addition, he was Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries, a founder member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission, a Trustee of the Soane Museum, and President of the Northamptonshire Association of Architects in 1911-22. In 1924 he received an honorary M.A. degree from the University of Oxford.

Once he retired, John Alfred Gotch was appointed the first Charter Mayor of Kettering in 1938.

[Information by Dr R K Hargrave from his PhD. thesis, “The Life and Works of John Alfred Gotch”, Royal Holloway, University of London].