Our STORY

As Recalled by

Arthur Seymour

1937-2018

1st Generation: Due to the fact that Mr Briggs could visualize the future, the hotel consisted of 37 bedrooms and 5 of the rooms had its own private bathroom! It was said the first hotel on the East Coast to have private bathrooms. Although Mr & Mrs Briggs kept a close eye on everything, the daily running of the hotel was in the hands of their son Paul and daughter Gwynneth. The summers of 1937 and 1938 ran more or less according to plan but the summer of 1939 was disrupted by the start of the 2nd World War. In the September of that year the annual Trades Union Congress had just commenced. The hotel bedrooms were all booked by the top Union officials including to name only a few, Sir Walter and Lady Citrine and Mr & Mrs Ernest Bevin and many others. Most of the guests had arrived a few days earlier but when war was declared on the 3rd September Congress was adjourned immediately and everyone left. The hotel was immediately requisitioned and was occupied by various branches of the forces for the duration of the war. When the hotel was handed back to Mr & Mrs Briggs the amount of work which had to be done was tremendous. Mr Briggs assumed the hotel would be used to accommodate officers and left all the carpets in the dinning room and lounges thinking of the comfort of those who would be billeted in the hotel. To his dismay the hotel was used by all ranks and both sexes. When it was handed back he was very upset by the amount of damage that had been done. Among other things every wash basin had to be replaced and it had to be decorated throughout. Rationing was very much in force and he had great difficulty replacing carpets and furniture. The compensation received was only a small fraction of the cost of repairs and replacements. To enable the hotel to reopen during the summer of 1948, (its kind of hard to understand that the hotel was closed for 9 years and only traded for two years from opening) carpets and chairs had to be replaced. There was no choice. All furniture was known as utility furniture. The dining room lacked its former glory but was functional.

Before I begin Arthur's story I've managed to piece together through local knowledge events before the Expanse was built. As you will notice in the image a ride called the Switchback to the right of the Switchback is a Cottage known as Sands Cottage which was part of the Sands Estate which today is North Marine Drive, I was informed that Mr Briggs purchased the cottage and rented it out until he demolished and started to build the biggest hotel on the East Coast.

 

This is the earliest information I can find until I came across Arthur Seymour's story around Christmas 2017.

 

I'm aware that the family had asked Arthur to finish recalling a lot of his stories and memories and I'm now going to share this hidden treasure. To make it more interesting I've also pieced together Images that follows Arthur's story I hope you enjoy this as I have enjoyed piecing together 80 years.

Mr E.C. Briggs better known as Cooper Briggs, lived in Horsforth near Leeds with his wife and family of 9 children. Each year they spent their holidays in Bridlington. Mr Briggs was a builder and public works contractor. He built bridges and houses in various parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire. He loved Bridlington. In the early 1930's whilst on Holiday he had this vision and decided that it would be good for Bridlington to have a nice new modern hotel. Furthermore he decided he would build it himself - this was at a time when the whole country was suffering in the great depression of the 30's.

He went to see the then Town Clerk and told him what he wanted to do. When he had explained the details, the Town Clerk said to him "Get on with it and get it up". There was no question of planning permission in those days. Mr Briggs drew his own plans and went ahead, but not with out difficulties. From the beginning he intended building the hotel and also self contained luxury residential flats. Not holiday flats but flats which would be permanently occupied and so generate income throughout the year. Building commenced and when he got as far as the third floor the bank he was with withdrew their support and work had to stop.

Of course Mr Briggs a builder and banks were for lending money. After lengthy negotiations Martins Bank, which now no longer exits came to the rescue and the building was completed. Whilst work was going on a considerable amount of interest was created and the public were encouraged to come and view this modern building . Interest was so great that Mr Briggs had a baby's cot placed by the entrance so that the people coming to view could make a donation to charity. 

Quite a substantial amount of money was collected and handed to the Lloyd Hospital. On one occasion when a group had completed the tour were standing on the front steps chatting to Mr Briggs one of the members of the group asked what he was going to call the hotel. On the spur of the moment he threw out his arms and said

"The Expanse of course, what else could it be"

The name stuck and has never changed.

The most modern and luxurious hotel on the East Coast, and maybe the North of England, was officially opened on Thursday 18th March 1937 which we celebrated 80 years on the 18th March 2017.

The building was now ready to recieve guests but to Mr & Mrs Briggs' dismay Paul, who had been a prisoner of war didn't want anything to do with the hotel and Gwynneth who had married during the war lived away. Mr & Mrs Briggs were now faced with a dilemma. They really had no choice. They opened the hotel and with all new staff ran the business very successfully.

Paul who before the war, in addition to the hotel work, did all his father's accounts and all book-keeping. Running the hotel was not easy. Food was very strictly rationed and one never knew when a food inspector would pounce to check that no joints of meat or rationed food of any sort was hidden away. Life was very difficult for Mr & Mrs Briggs so they decided to sell the whole business, the hotel and flats. Mr & Mrs Briggs were both very active members of the Methodist Church and staunch total abstainers. A purchaser came forward who was willing to buy. A day and time was fixed for the handing over of the cheque in settlement. Whilst Mr & Mrs Briggs were sat discussing the final items the directors of the firm purchasing were looking around the lounge and one said to the other

"We will have a Bar in this corner"

Mr Briggs overheard the remark and said "What did you say" he repeated what he had said and Mrs Briggs immediately replied "You are not having a Bar in this building". (We now have three Bars, Hotel Bar, Function Bar and the Marine Bar) The deal collapsed and the directors went away. Mr & Mrs Briggs were in a quandary. As usual they carried on.

Mr & Mrs Briggs had another daughter, Winifred, who was a State Registered Nurse. In 1947 she decided to take up Midwifery and did the first part of the course very successfully. Before starting the second part of the course she and a friend went to Scotland for a holiday. 2nd Generation: This was when Winifred met her future husband, a young man called Arthur Seymour from County Durham. The romance did not disrupt Winifred's ambition, she continued with the course and soon became a qualified Midwife. After some time had passed they decided to get married. This meant looking for a house in the Consett area of County Durham where Arthur worked. Winifred made a number of visits and they found a house which they thought would be suitable. Winifred's father decided he must make a visit to inspect the property. With Mrs Briggs he booked into a hotel in Durham City for the weekend. On the Sunday it was arranged that they would all visit our proposed new house. The visit went very well and everything was satisfactory and agreed. The man selling the house produced documents and asked me to sign them. At this point Mr Briggs interrupted and objected strongly to Arthur signing the documents on a Sunday.

 

Needless to say the transaction never materialized and it was definitely off which did not suit the seller.

Mr & Mrs Briggs returned to Bridlington and left Winifred behind so Arthur and Mr Briggs could discuss there future. A few days later Arthur and Winifred received a letter from Mr Briggs describing his difficulties now that Paul wasn't interested in the business and how he had no one to rely o