Mourning the loss of an old friend

Residents of Wortley Village and Old South London woke up Sunday morning, April 16, to the devastating news that one of their community’s cherished landmarks and favourite gathering spots, The Black Walnut Bakery Café, had been destroyed by fire.

Deemed suspicious in nature, the fire led to the demolition of the nineteenth-century building that housed the café. Damage was estimated at $2 million.

On Tuesday, a 20-year-old suspect was taken into custody and charged with arson with disregard to human life and arson causing damage to property.

The co-owners, siblings Mandy and Ed Etheridge, have vowed to rebuild as soon as possible.

To say that it’s upsetting to walk or drive by the corner of Wortley Road and Craig Street where The Black Walnut once stood would be an understatement. All that remains is a gaping hole in the ground after excavators cleared away the rubble.

Old South residents and patrons are understandably shaken by the senseless destruction of the beloved café. To be sure, it was one of those establishments that you took for granted and figured would always be there. I had a coffee and muffin there just days before the fire.

Many patrons had formed an emotional relationship with The Black Walnut and its staff over the years. Something that was evident by the number of people crying as the café was demolished.

Other Wortley Village businesses and residents have expressed their support for the cafe’s rebuilding.

One of the most poignant post-fire photographs was of a fireman carrying The Black Walnut’s sign to give to the owners.

I am sure I speak for other Old South residents in saying that I can’t wait for The Black Walnut Bakery Café’s reopening.

One thought on “Mourning the loss of an old friend

  1. I too was devastated by the loss of this community hub and can’t wait to see it rebuilt. Great capture of the moment and feel of this sad event Rick.


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