Our Bridfas Society in Osnabrück had its inauguration in September 1997 and found a very positive response in and around the town. It was the initiative of Caroline Richards, wife of the then Brigadier commanding the British troops in Osnabrück, who had heard of this new cultural society mushrooming in the UK.
There, in 1968, a young mother, Patricia Fay, felt she was not completely fulfilled with her role as mother and housewife, and got together with some friends to invite a well- known expert to come to them and give a talk on a subject of cultural interest. So popular was the response that very soon many others took up the torch and societies were springing up all over the country and even today, more than half a century later, the number of clubs is increasing and they have spread their tentacles globally with branches in many European countries, Australasia, South-east Asia and now in the Americas with one opening in Toronto. Originally called the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (Nadfas or Bridfas here in Germany) in 2017 it was decided to unite these various acronyms under the name The Arts Society.
It was in 1997 that the nascent society advertised its first meeting in the local Osnabrück newspaper and more than 100 people crowded into the room at the Zimeliensaal of the University Library . Very many were willing to commit themselves to a membership of the society and pay the annual subscription which covered the costs for the lectures and the travel expenses of the lecturers, who were mostly accredited to Nadfas and travelled fom the UK.
After an initial period at the University Library it was decided to search for a more spacious venue offering a cheerful ambience and serving refreshments, too. It was then the Committee hit upon the idea of having the Park Hotel at the Westerberg as the new venue and in April 1998 the first meeting was held there.
Since then it has been our popular home base for most lectures. Where a musical instrument was required we moved first to the Roberts Barracks and then later to the Ledenhof and for one special jubilee we were invited to Schloss Gesmold. We celebrated our 10th and 20th Bridfas anniversaries in the familiar atmosphere of the Park Hotel, too.
End of an Era
Sadly, after more than 20 years, we have to say farewell to this familiar Bridfas ‘home’and find new accommodation. The restaurant and hotel are being demolished to make way for a new residential estate and we can no longer meet up in that convivial atmosphere the Park hotel has offered us. The parting is not an easy one but I think this last Covid year has taught us we must look forward to the future with hope and optimism. ‘The show must go on’ and we have a new agreeable venue at hand, but more about that when the time comes.
A farm belonging to the Kampmeier family opened a restaurant on the site at the Westerberg in 1929. Like many popular cafes and restaurants situated at the bus-line terminals outside the town, it had the advantage of being near enough for people to walk there, or take just a short bus-ride from the town centre to theWesterberg. Kampmeier became well-known for its generous portions of Schinkenbutterbrot (smoked ham on a slice of bread) and soon also employed a cake and pastry cook to entice afternoon guests to spend a few leisurely hours in the surroundings of the Heger Holz.
In the last year of World War II the premises were taken over by the German air-force, and occupied by a Flak Einheit (ack-ack unit) consisting of 2 sixth form classes from a local grammar school. The boys were expected to live on the premises and experience the hard and rougher life of real soldiers.
With the end of the war and the occupation by the British, the buildings were requisitioned and used by ENSA as an entertainment centre for the troops stationed in the many nearby barracks. When their families began to arrive from the UK, the first English school in Osnabrück was opened on the premises. New houses were built on nearby sites for these British families and Kampmeier’s daughter opened the first post-war pub for local workers. With the completion of these new homes, the property was handed back to the owners and a new period of prosperity began with a thriving restaurant and the building of a large hotel and apartment block. People came from far afield for conferences and celebrations which they could enjoy in these peaceful surroundings with high quality gastronomy.
The British Army maintained a strong attachment to Kampmeier because of the vicinity to their living quarters, good food and a friendly welcoming almosphere. They often made use of the catering facilities. It was these ties to the restaurant that led the BRIDFAS committee to make the move from the University Library to these attractive quarters, not too far from the town centre with plenty of space to park, suitably sized lecture-rooms and a good culinary service for the hungry and thirsty.
But now, like most of those ‘gemütliche’ cafes and restaurants so popular in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Park Hotel is being demolished. In the course of time popular trends and fashions demand radical changes. The Park Hotel now shares the same fate as so many old pubs and inns in Germany and Great Britain, too.