Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
London postal district
The system of London postal districts predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. The first system, of ten sectors identified by letters, was introduced in 1858; the numbered subdivisions date from 1917. The 1917 subdivisions remain important, because they form the first part of the two-part modern postcode (so N1 1AA is an address in the old N1 district), and because they continue to be used by Londoners to refer to their districts.
The London postal districts are organized by sectors, as follows, and then numbered alphabetically within their sectors.
- In central London, WC and EC (West Central and East Central)
- In the rest of London, N, NW, SW, SE, W and E.
- In some of outer London the districts derive from the location of the main sorting office, as with other UK postcodes.
Note that London postal districts rarely coincide with the boundaries of London boroughs (even the old, smaller metropolitan boroughs). The numbering system also appears arbitrary on the map: for example, NW1 is close to central London, but NW2 is a long way out. This is because, within each sector, they were numbered by first assigning the number 1 to the closest district to the centre, and then the rest of the number were assigned alphabetically by the name of the district they represented.
Matters are confused further by the fact that the postal districts considered to be "London" do not correspond to local government boundaries — neither the pre-1965 London County Council nor the Greater London Council/Greater London Authority boundaries are identical to the area covered by EC, WC, N, NW, E, W, SE & SW. As a result there are places within Greater London that do not have "London" postcodes (eg, Enfield). Royal Mail has a policy of only changing postcodes if there is an operational advantage to them and have no plans to change the postcode system to match up with London's boundaries.
It is common to use postal districts as placenames in London, particularly in the property market: a property may be described as being "in N11". They are a convenient shorthand for social status, such that a 'desirable' postcode may add significantly to the value of property, and property developers have pressed for the boundaries of postal districts to be altered so that new developments will sound as though they are in a richer area.
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. These two codes have since been applied to Newcastle Upon Tyne and Sheffield respectively.
All Head District Sorting Offices, except London South East, were connected by and had stations on the Post Office Underground Railway.
List of London postal districts
Map of London postal districts
The following postcodes are entirely or substantially within the Greater London boundary; the principal sorting offices are shown in italics:
- (Bromley) BR1 Bromley, BR2 Keston, BR3 Beckenham, BR4 West Wickham, BR5 St Mary Cray , BR6 Orpington, BR7 Chislehurst
- (Croydon) CR0 Croydon, CR2 South Croydon, CR4 Mitcham, CR5 Coulsdon, CR7 Thornton Heath, CR8 Purley, CR9 Croydon (large users)
- (Harrow) HA0 Wembley, HA1 Harrow on the Hill , HA2 Harrow, HA3 Wealdstone, HA4 Ruislip, HA5 Pinner, HA6 Northwood, HA7 Stanmore, HA8 Edgware, HA9 Brent
- (Ilford) IG1 Ilford, IG2 Gants Hill, IG3 Seven Kings, IG4 Redbridge, IG5 Clayhall , IG6 Barkingside , IG7 Hainault, IG8 Woodford Green, IG11 Barking
- (Kingston upon Thames) KT1 Kingston, KT2 Norbiton, KT3 New Malden, KT4 Worcester Park , KT5 Berrylands, KT6 Surbiton, KT9 Chessington
- (Romford) RM1 Romford, RM2 Gidea Park, RM3 Harold Wood, RM4 Havering-atte-Bower, RM5 Collier Row, RM6 Chadwell Heath, RM7 Rush Green , RM8 Becontree Heath , RM9 Becontree, RM10 Dagenham, RM11 Emerson Park, RM12 Hornchurch, RM13 Rainham, RM14 Upminster
- (Twickenham) TW1 Twickenham, TW2 Whitton, TW3 Hounslow, TW4 Hounslow West , TW5 Heston, TW6 Heathrow, TW7 Isleworth, TW8 Brentford, TW9 Richmond, TW10 Ham , TW11 Teddington, TW12 Hampton, TW13 Feltham, TW14 Hatton
- (Uxbridge) UB1 Southall, UB2 Norwood Green , UB3 Hayes, UB4 Yeading, UB5 Northolt, UB6 Greenford, UB7 West Drayton, UB8 Uxbridge, UB10 Hillingdon
- London postcode map
- Establishment of London postal districts -- mailing list discussion
- intoLondon.com has a clickable map with which you can zoom in and explore the different postcodes of London, including their landmarks and transport links.
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