Northern Group Gets on Board for SMMT’s Summer Soiree

An intrepid gaggle of Northern Group members has made the trek down to central London to attend the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) first ever “Summer Soiree”, and at a very unusual venue.

The assembled guests, including our colleagues from other regional groups, car manufacturer PR representatives, and friends from the SMMT itself — including CEO Mike Hawes — gathered on the north bank of the Thames at Embankment Pier for the evening. However the pier itself wasn’t the final destination, as those attending boarded a riverboat for the festivities.

SMMT chose Bateaux London for the event, and the “River Room” venue: a floating restaurant built on the 49m long, 624 gross ton pleasure cruiser Harmony. With space for up to 200 guests, the River Room can tour the Thames, taking in the well-known tourist sights, though it remained moored for the event to allow for (late) comings and goings.

Although it’s over 150 miles from the southern borders of our region — and more than 200 miles for most members — the Northern Group was able to show a small representation, with veteran member Martin Ward, meetings secretary Frederic Manby, and chairman Andrew Harris all making the trip down.

An “informal evening of cocktails, canapés and conversation”, the Summer Soiree was a very different experience from the usual annual events — the Test Day, and Test Day North (and South, for our colleagues below the line) — but captured an atmosphere similar to our own pre-Test Day North barbecues.

We’ll be catching up with another such event later this year, but hopefully SMMT will host its summer party again in 2024.