Northern Group

Northern Group of Motoring Writers Enters Its 50th Anniversary Year

2023 is an exciting time for the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, as it will be our 50th anniversary year — and we’ll be celebrating the milestone over the coming months.

It all began in a dimly lit London restaurant where Ford were hosting a dinner for regional motoring writers on the eve of the Earl’s Court Motor Show in October 1972. Round the table chat – fuelled by some excellent wine – focussed on the fact that much of motoring PR back then was felt to be London-centric and that many regional motoring scribes were being left out in the cold when it came to test cars and invitations to attend launch events.

Ford, with its Liverpool-based, Halewood PR operation, was a notable exception. Halewood PR man Brian Morris offered not only encouragement but also the facility to stage a meeting and hold formal discussions at the factory, which is now under Jaguar Land Rover.

In December 1972 the four founding members – Maurice Glover of the Stoke Sentinel, Mike Grumett of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, David Williams of the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal, and David Whinyates of the Middlesbrough Gazette — met up and decided to form the fledgling group, inviting other like-minded print journalists to join what was to become the first organisation in England and Wales to represent regional motoring writers.

The Group was officially formed in May 1973 at a meeting at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, which followed the northern press launch of the brand-new Austin Allegro. That meeting was attended by a total of 13 Northern-based newspaper writers, from morning, evening and weekly titles. Keith Ward was elected as the Group’s first chair, with David Whinyates as secretary and treasurer, and Mike Grumett as publicity officer and newsletter editor.

Those early days saw numerous meetings on an almost monthly basis, with the Group’s constitution coming into being at the first annual meeting in April 1974. That was followed swiftly by the first annual dinner — at the Post House, in Manchester — in May 1974.

Over the last half century the Northern Group has led the way amongst regional motoring writers’ groups with events such as the hugely successful Mintex Test Day, staged for many years from 1973 onwards, and has made significant charitable donations with money raised from its popular black-tie annual dinners and charity drive events in Europe and the UK.

In its 50 year history, the Northern Group has welcomed more than 100 members to its fold with the latest, George Loveridge, being the 114th. Of that original foursome, only David Whinyates is still as active as ever — and publishes the Group’s newsletter three times a year. Maurice Glover and Keith Ward remain as life members of the Group.

We’ll bring more information on plans to mark the 50th anniversary over the coming months.