This relatively new access road has a far older history than at first it may appear. The name appears on Ralph Agas’s woodcut map of London from 1561 as a prominent street immediately outside the Tower of London’s west wall written as Petit Walas. By the time that John Rocque was drawing his 1746 map, the area had been cleared of all streets, most likely to create a fire break following the Great Fire of London. The name was revived when redevelopment of the area took place. However scholars are unsure as to how it got its name. It most likely follows the example of Petty France and Little Britain after a Welsh community that was based around here. Indeed it was close to Andros Morris Key (quay), one of the so-called legal keys, so may have been run by Welsh merchants.
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