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I live in London W11 2BQ. As no other English city has codes starting with a W, you don't need to write "London". Writing "W11 2BQ" tells the Post Office it is in London. It is implicit.
We call that a postcode and it defines my street unambiguously, A code indicates on average 14 properties (and the various flats within them)
The structure of a London postcode is
(a) a point of the compass (no S and no NE)
(W N E SW NW SE and WC = West Central, EC = East Central)
(b) a district within that point of the compass - there can be between 10 and 30 districts per point of the compass (but less for
WC and EC)
Thus W11 = Notting Hill south of the overhead motorway, W10 = Notting Hill north of the overhead motorway. W2 = Paddington, W6 = Hammersmith,
These postal districts have existed since the mid 19th Century. What turns them into a postcode is the more recent addition of ...
(c) a digit (0-9) and 2 letters, Permissible letters are ABD EFG HJL NPQ RST UWX YZ (excluding CIK MOV), These could give you 10 x 20 x 20 (= 4,000) possibilities,
These define which street we are talking about,
The system establishing postcodes throughout the UK, which involved adding on street codes to the existing London postal districts in which they are located, was gradually introduced nearly 50 years ago in the UK, under the advertising slogan "You are not properly addressed without it!".
The first two parts of the London postcode are collectively known as the outward part of the code (they get the letter to the right sorting office) and the third part knwn as the inward part of the code, as they tell the sorting office into which postbag of which walk the letter should then be placed.
Wikipedia says ...
A postal code (known in various countries as a post code, postcode, or ZIP code) is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
Germany was the world's first country to introduce a postal code system in 1941. The United Kingdom followed in 1959 and the United States in 1963.
The majority of the world's national postal services have postal code systems. A few do not: for example, Ireland, although a national postal code system will be introduced in 2008. Hong Kong and Panama do not have postal codes.
American zip codes are 5 digits. i.e. numbers only. Finland too. In Finland the first two digits show the postal area and the last three digits represent the particular post office in the area. Corporations receiving large amounts of mail may have their own postal code. The special postal code 99999 is Korvatunturi, the place were Santa Claus (or Joulupukki in Finnish) is said to live.
Most postal codes are numeric. The few countries using alphanumeric postal code systems (with letters and digits) are: Argentina. Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Jamaica, Malta, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Venezuela
But the UK is wavering.
UK postcodes are alphanumeric and between six and eight characters in length (including a single space character used to separate the outward and inward parts of the code). For example the post code for the House of Commons is SW1A 0AA. These codes were introduced by the Royal Mail over a fifteen year period from 1959 to 1974.
However, as the format of the codes does not achieve its objective of primarily identifying the main sorting office and sub-office they have been supplemented by a newer system of five digit codes called Mailsort. Mail users who can deliver mail to the post office sorted by mailsort code receive discounts, whilst delivery by postcode does not provide any such financial incentive.
In the London area postcodes are slightly different, being based on the old system of 163 London postal districts and predating by many years the introduction of postcodes in the 1960s:
In central London, WC and EC (West Central and East Central)
In the rest of London, N, NW, SW, SE, W and E.
The London postal districts rarely coincide with the boundaries of the London boroughs (even the former, smaller metropolitan boroughs). The numbering system appears arbitrary on the map: for example, NW1 is close to central London, but NW2 is a long way out. This is because (after starting with 1 for the area containing the main sorting office) they were numbered alphabetically by the name of the main sorting office.
The area covered by the London postal districts was somewhat larger than the County of London, and included parts of Kent, Essex, Surrey, Middlesex and Hertfordshire. In 1965 the creation of Greater London caused this situation to be reversed as the boundaries of Greater London went far beyond the existing London postal districts.
Those places not covered by the existing districts received postcodes as part of the national coding plan, so the postcode areas of "EN" Enfield, "KT" Kingston upon Thames, "HA" Harrow, "UB" Uxbridge", "TW" Twickenham, "SM" Sutton, "CR" Croydon, "DA" Dartford, "BR" Bromley, "RM" Romford and "IG" Ilford cross administrative boundaries and cover parts of neighbouring counties as well as parts of London.
A further complication is that in some of the most central London areas, a further graduation has been necessary to produce enough postcodes, giving codes like EC1A 1AA.
While most postcodes are allocated by administrative convenience, a few are deliberately chosen. For example in Westminster:
SW1A 0AA - House of Commons
SW1A 0PW - House of Lords, Palace of Westminster
SW1A 1AA - Buckingham Palace
SW1A 2AA - 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury
SW1A 2AB - 11 Downing Street, Chancellor of the Exchequer
SW1A 2HQ - HM Treasury
So now you know how to write to the Queen and to Tony Blair! And to write to Santa Claus. the postcode for correctly addressed letters to Santa is SAN TA1.
Why no NE or S?
There are no London postal districts labelled "NE" or "S". These were in the initial division but were later removed as they were considered unnecessary.
Following a report by Anthony Trollope (1815 – 1882) one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era) in 1866 most of the NE district was transferred to the E sector; the rest was left without a letter designation until the introduction of the IG and RM postcodes almost a century later (though only a part of the area covered by these new codes was in the old NE London district). The S sector was divided between SE and SW in 1868.
The NE and S codes have since been applied to Newcastle Upon Tyne and Sheffield respectively. Both of them major centres of population. Source(s):
Posted on Jul 12, 2010
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
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