The condensed matter theory group was founded in 1979 with the appointment of Stephen W. Lovesey, soon after the start of the construction of the ISIS facility. In the next few years M. Warner and J. M. F. Gunn took up staff positions, and J. M. Loveluck was the first, of many, Atlas Fellows appointed to CMT jointly with St. Catherine's College, Oxford (his successors included Martin Long, Greg Watson, Joerg Schmalian in 1999, Nikitas Gidopoulos in 2000-2004 and Jorge Quintanilla since 2005).
Over intervening years, the group hosted many postdoctoral students, of many nationalities, with study grants provided by agencies such as the EU, British Council and The Royal Society. Numerous short term visitors added significantly to the research effort of the group. Collaborations spanning much of the life-time of CMT were achieved with Professor E. Balcar (TU, Vienna), Professor V. Tognetti (University of Florence) and Dr. K. N. Trohidou (Demokritos, NCSR, Athens). Consultants to the group at various times included Sir Sam Edwards, Sir Roger Elliott and Sir Rudolf Peierls.
Staff, visitors and students associated with CMT published a few hundred papers, review articles and books. Conferences, workshops and schools covering a wide range of subjects were organised at venues in the UK, Greece and Italy.