please empty your brain below

A lovely post to start the day DG, and great to finally understand why south London doesn’t have a S, and why areas like Beckenham and Croydon are alienated from other parts of London.

There are still some NE street signs in Hackney, particularly around De Beauvoir.

I was surprised to see Tower Hamlets has ‘moved’ a road from E3 to E1. Should your daily exercise take you along Mile End Road, turn right into Grove Road and look up at the street sign above Subway sandwich bar. Apparently Grove Road is now E1. I don’t imagine that amending the sign will be high on the council’s list any time soon.
The EC and WC postal areas are the only ones in the UK where you can have a EC or WC followed by a digit and then another letter. In all other areas the postal area (outward part of the postcode, before the space) is then followed by one or two digits but never letters.
(awaits "ah no, in fact..." comments)
There may be others too, but SW1A also has a letter after the first digit
But Jon, I live in SW1A
Thanks for the link, another thing to rummage through and get lost in, also thanks to The London Topographical Society for putting their newsletters online, it can be quite hard to get hold of older newsletters from various societies (especially if they no longer exist), as in my case I want them for the information contained within, as opposed to wanting to possess the physical item.
The BBC is W1A 1AA. I used to work on Regent street and that had a W1A postcode too...
I like the fact that Rowland Hill Street is not a street in any normal sense: it has neither houses nor shops as it is the cul-de-sac back entrance road to the Royal Free Hospital (and formerly to the North Western Fever Hospital.) It is, however, a steep hill, so most people simply call it Rowland Hill. Surely whoever decided to commemorate him in that way must have intended this to happen.
i wonder if there are any other hills named after someone named Hill.
"Within each existing district the subdivision containing the head district office was numbered 1, then the remainder followed in alphabetical order."

The SW area is a minor exception to this: SW1-SW10 follow this rule, but then it resets to a fresh alphabetical list for SW11-SW20, with Battersea as SW11 as the head district for that area.

In theory, the entire list could/should be renumbered as follows:

- SW2 Battersea (2nd head district)
- SW3 Balham
- SW4 Barnes
- SW5 Brixton
- SW6 Chelsea
- SW7 Clapham
- SW8 Earls Court
- SW9 Fulham
- SW10 Kensington (South)
- SW11 Lambeth (South)
- SW12 Mortlake
- SW13 Putney
- SW14 Stockwell
- SW15 Streatham
- SW16 Tooting
- SW17 Wandsworth
- SW18 West Brompton
- SW19 Wimbledon
- SW20 Wimbledon (West)

So no changes needed for SW19 or 20, but the rest would all thoroughly reshuffle.

(Yes, this quarantine is leaving me with far too much spare time!)
SW districts not being numbered in one alphabetically ordered list is down to - in 1917 - it having 2 'Head District Offices' (HDO), each with its own set of Sub District Offices (SDO)- and each set was numbered separately. The same situation occurred in the SE and W areas: the second HDOs were Battersea (SW11), Norwood (SE19) and Paddington (W2 - the main West HDO had no SDOs of its own).

Other (apparent) anomalies are down to the ordering being based on SDO name (not always what you might expect, e.g. 'The Hyde' is NW9... unusually, ordering did not ignore 'The'), and later (post 1918) additions (e.g. SW20 for West Wimbledon)

But what always surprises me is that - for what such a fundamental feature of London - the explanation of postal district numbering is so little known or explained.
In Australia post codes tell you the area. I was amazed that your post code in England gives your exact address. Your post code is all a taxi cab driver needs to know.
The LTS is an excellent organisation, at £20 pa you get a free London-based book, two newsletters a year and usually an AGM + tea + lecture in a place you wouldn't normally get/go to.
Despite moving out of London I'm still a member because of the high quality of research.
Andrew - pretty much but it refers to a road or section of a road so doesn't actually pinpoint your exact door number.

Fascinating post, thanks DG
I'm genuinely impressed by the number of people and companies that have opened their sites/content to all during this time.
Humanity at its best.
Issue 34's musings on the sound of Big Ben.... I wonder if work is still going on inside the scaffolding, and whether it will start striking at the end of lockdown in a typically grand Boris gesture.
The 1917 numbering was based on the then existing Postman's Offices, each area had one and the boundaries set by their walks. Today many offices have been relocated or amalgamated but the boundaries remain.

I have located all but one SE/SW office so, please, does anyone know where the SE11 (Kennington) office was before amalgmation with SE17 (Walworth). I suspect it may have been destroyed in the bombing.
I read somewhere that there are two surviving 'S' street name signs in London. One is 'The Pavement' Clapham and high up on a building. Can anyone advise where any others might be?
All the head postal districts (the '1s') have alphabetical suffixes for some addresses, some for PO box numbers and some for geographical addresses.

I came by this knowledge by putting together a (non-exhaustive) spreadsheet of pubs by postcode. My project of drinking in each post code area is suspended due to the current crisis.

With regard to W1A, it is a special post code for addresses like the BBC and Selfridges, and I have been unable to find a pub with a W1A postcode, although of course there are numerous hostelries in the area.
Fascinating linked piece on Big Ben's time delay. Made me think again on how bonkers it is for the BBC to broadcast the Greenwich time signal these days, which is only nearly accurate if heard on Long Wave. It will be several seconds out if heard on DAB or internet radio.

dg writes: Indeed.
Yes Ian, you are right, try W1B 5QH instead, that should include a (currently) closed pub.

And come to think of it the office had a W1B postcode too!
So I have Trollope to thank for the fact that I'm now an S6 girl.
There’s also the curious case of Wapping - E1W

‘Ah no, in fact...’ comment delivered DG ;-)
cf Rowland Hill. The great-great-nephew of Rowland Hill, Sir [Tony] Hill was the epidemiologist who first connected cigarette smoking to lung cancer. We've been reading a lot of stuff from contemporary epidemiologists re COVID-19 - I wonder what Sir Tony would have said?
As someone who well remembers the early days of desktop publishing, I liked the instructions on the back page of Newsletter 29 on how to send text to the Editor on disk. The newsletter was being produced, apparently, by a member who had a "small Macintosh computer-orientated business" in Cambridge.
Before postcodes, there was a brief period when the official address of BBC Broadcasting House, as read out for letters and so on, was PO Box 1AA, London W1.

I wonder if all other W1A postcodes have similar history.
UK postcodes are (almost) unique in that you can type one into a search engine such as Google and immediately, by clicking Map, get to a map of the immediate area.

Almost unique because Canadian postcodes are similar, because they got the idea from the UK, but are even harder to type. Put M5E 1W2 into Google, for example, and you get the Novotel Toronto, right next to Union Station, where I stayed in 2018.
Thank you for this posting. As a fully paid up member of the lamp posts, road signs, buses, trains & planes fraternity, I enjoyed reading this and the links very much.

I personally have always felt that it was a shame that there are no NE & S postal districts in London. Chingford NE1 & South Woodford NE7 sound better than currently.

I also think it's a pity that in the 1970s 'postcodes for all' scheme, the chance wasn't seized to created a more inclusive Greater London GL/GN postcode, for the Bromleys, Bexleys & Woodfords & Harrows.

It would have perhaps been even more helpful & inclusive for a new postcode for all of London to be assigned, in order to integrate the Kents & Essexes into a London, of which there is no doubt, they are part. The Middxes always seemed to have less of a problem with this idea.
I never previously clicked that the postcode districts were assigned alphabetically before. Is that just a London thing? I grew up in the north and in Manchester (for instance) the postcode districts are (imperfectly) radiating out from the centre of Manchester rather than being anything related to the name of the area.
I remember when I first came to live in west London, I couldn't understand why W12 was next to W3, then W5, W13, and W7, until I discovered it was alphabetical based on the names of local areas - Acton, Ealing, etc. I read somewhere that this was because the postal workers were used to their sorting bins being laid out alphabetically so they were numbered in that order to avoid confusion - for them!
Lovely find DG. The LTS is probably the best value membership I have, the quality of its annual publications alone are well above the price.
Has anyone an authoritative rationale for the more obscure UK postcode areas? Notably, Wikipedia has only unsubstantiated explanations for DG (officially “the Dumfries postcode area”), IG (Ilford), SM (Sutton) and SP (Salisbury). UB (Southall) clearly derives from the more distinctive Uxbridge. While the rest might have been presented to the world without elaboration, and it is easy to contrive explanations, I like to think there was some official 1970s Post Office mnemonic connecting the second letter with a relevant place.
Sam - you saved me the trouble ; )
My idle occasional thought about London postcodes has been that there should be a new SC1 postcode to cover the central part of SE1, which could be comprised of the part of SE1 between Tower and Blackfriar Bridges and going as far south as Borough Road. So Elephant and Castle would not be included but all the new business hubs that have popped up over the last decade would be included.
I happened to live at Woodford Green when the IG8 was introduced.. I'm sure the leaflets advising of the new postcodes mentioned the I lford & Barkin G area code IG..

I'm not 100% sure, but presume SM is S utton & M orden..
Rich. As noted in Wikipedia, DG covers Dumfries and Galloway - not just Dumfries.
SP - Salisbury Plain
I'm a bit late to this, but does anyone know if it's true that Harrods paid the post office to extend the SW1 post code area to include their building? I heard it on the radio some years ago, but thought it might be one of those London urban myths.

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