History of The Expanse Hotel Established 1937 - 2015
There are not many businesses which are still on the go after 78 years, let alone in the same family. The Expanse Hotel is run by the third generation and fourth generation. Irene Wilks is the granddaughter of Mr E C Briggs who built the hotel. She and her husband Neil took over from her parents Arthur and Winifred Seymour. Winifred was Mr Briggs’ daughter.
For many years Mr Edmund Cooper Briggs was a builder and civil engineer from Horsforth near Leeds. Each year he would bring his wife and family of 9 children to Bridlington for their annual holiday. Mr Briggs was a man of tremendous foresight and it was during one of these holidays in the early 1930’s that he decided Bridlington needed a purpose built modern hotel. This was when the whole country was in the midst of a very serious depression. In spite of that Mr Briggs decided to go ahead and build his hotel. The actual building created a lot of interest and sightseers were a regular feature. A few sightseers were standing outside chatting to Mr Briggs when one of them asked what the hotel was to be called. He flung out his arms and said “The Expanse of course, what else could it be”.
Conceived as the most modern and luxurious hotel on the East Coast it was opened on 18th March 1937 by the Mayoress of Bridlington who was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Mr Briggs’ daughter Winifred who was a young school girl at the time and is now Mrs Winifred Seymour. It was said that it was the first hotel on the East Coast to have bedrooms with a private bathroom. The hotel traded during the summer of 1937 – 1938 and until September 1939. The Trades Union Congress was holding its annual conference and top officials from the TUC including Lord Citrine, Ernest Bevin and others were staying when war was declared. The hotel was immediately requisitioned and accommodated personnel from all three services and later forces from overseas. After the was when the hotel was returned to Mr Briggs he persuaded his daughter and son in law Winifred and Arthur Seymour to come into the business which they did in 1949. They carried on for the next 50 years or so when their daughter and son in law were persuaded to join them.
Irene and Neil Wilks are the third generation and still successfully running the business which has survived for over 70 years. Over the years various changes have been made. Originally the hotel had 30 bedrooms, 7 with private bathrooms. Now each of the 46 bedrooms have a private bathroom, in addition luxurious self-catering apartments also available to book. The Marine Bar was built in 1963 and in early 1999 a decision was made to build a function room. The work was completed by December 1999 and the first public function was held in “The Seymours” on New Year’s Eve to welcome the new millennium. It has proved to be a very popular venue for weddings and a variety of functions.
Currently owned by Neil and Irene Wilks and managed by their daughter’s Natasha and Ellie Bennett, with her husband Paul. The fourth generation will continue the hotels well established reputation for good service, quality food and lovingly maintained art deco surroundings.