The Road to Little London - The Home of the Welsh Drovers
To the south of London Bridge in Bermondsey off Tooley Street, there was an area known as Jacob's Island in the 1800's. Charles Dickens immortalised this area in "Oliver Twist". One of the missionaries of the London City Mission in 1876, furnished a report on the district, comparing it to what it was when he entered it in 1855. In Dicken's sketch of the district he states that "... the houses have no owners, and they are broken open and entered upon by those who have the courage". " Much of the property of the district has no rightful owners, and many of the houses no claimants. Most of the dens have been pulled down since I have been in the district. Part of London Street, the whole of Little London Street, Mill Street ?... have been demolished and warehouses have taken the place of dwelling-houses". Dickens said that there were " crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half-a-dozen houses, windows broken and patched, wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud with decaying foundations. This is the scene in the narrow passages near the Island, two of which are known by the humble names of Halfpenny Alley and Farthing Alley"

London in 1658Could this have been the location of a Little London built and occupied in the 17th century, allowed to fall into disuse and left empty by the 1800's?
The links to the Welsh drovers would be Little London Street; Halfpenny and Farthing Alley; being the amounts paid for pasture grazing; and the local tanyards. The area conveniently located on common land with a water supply close to the crossing of the Thames at London Bridge.We know from the British Library that the Welsh Auxiliary of The London City Mission administered to the Welsh drovers at Barnet fair in 1861. The fact that they visited Jacob's Island in 1855 is more than a coincidence. The 1841 census lists many empty properties, with an Edward Williams aged 30, living nearby in James Court with an occupation of Drover!

There is no documentary evidence to prove that the settlements were set up by the Welsh. There has been the suggestion that they were created by Londoners fleeing the plague, explaining why they are located away from existing villages. As one can see the sites were not all constructed in the same century and many are at a great distance from the Capital..

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