London postal district

From Academic Kids

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.

The London postal districts were created solely to help sort and deliver mail and therefore 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 were confused further as the postal districts created covered an area much larger than the London County Council boundaries of 1888. Places such as Leyton in Essex, Ealing in Middlesex, Penge in Kent and Barnes in Surrey were outside the County of London but in the London postal area. In 1965 the creation of Greater London caused London's boundary to expand to include these places officially, however the new boundary went far beyond the existing postal districts to include places that were not in the London postal area. Royal Mail did not follow this change and expand the postal area to match. It now 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. Places in London's outer boroughs such as Enfield, Ilford, Beckenham and Croydon are therefore not covered by the postal districts. A notable exception is Sewardstone which is within the London postal area but outside the Greater London boundary in Essex.

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

Template:LondonEC Template:LondonWC Template:LondonN Template:LondonNW Template:LondonE Template:LondonW Template:LondonSE Template:LondonSW

Map of London postal districts

Missing image

Greater London

The following postcodes are entirely or substantially within the Greater London boundary; the principal sorting offices are shown in italics:

See also

External links


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