The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (January 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Category||Postal administration unit|
|Found in||Postcode areas|
|Number||~1,500 (as of 2013)|
A post town is a required part of all postal addresses in the United Kingdom, and a basic unit of the postal delivery system. As of 2004 [update] , their main function is to distinguish between localities or street names in addresses not including a postcode.Including the correct post town in the address increases the chance of a letter or parcel being delivered on time. Post towns in general originated as the location of delivery offices.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
There are approximately 1,500 post towns which are organised by Royal Mail subject to its policy only to impose changes where it has a proven, economic and practical benefit to the organisation, covering its own cost.Each post town usually corresponds to one or more postal districts (the 'outward' part of the postcode, before the space) therefore each post town can cover an area comprising many towns, urban districts and villages. Post towns rarely correspond exactly to administrative boundaries and their associated physical features. As such they often group a small minority of neighbourhoods, streets or houses together with a main settlement in a different county, area of local government or administration (including healthcare trust), constituency, European statistical region and/or traditional parish. This was a main reason why postal counties were abolished (but not prohibited) in 1996.
The Royal Mail is a postal service and courier company in the United Kingdom, originally established in 1516. The company's subsidiary, Royal Mail Group Limited, operates the brands Royal Mail (letters) and Parcelforce Worldwide (parcels). General Logistics Systems, an international logistics company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group. For a brief period in the early 2000s, the group used the name Consignia before reverting to its original name.
The counties of the United Kingdom are subnational divisions of the United Kingdom, used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. By the Middle Ages counties had become established as a unit of local government, at least in England. By the early 17th century, all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland had been separated into counties. The older term shire was historically equivalent to "county". In Scotland shire was the only term used until after the Act of Union 1707.
In some places several post towns cover a single postal district (with each post town corresponding to one or more of its postcode sectors). There are anomalies where post towns and postcode sectors have a more unusual co-relation. For example, the postcode sector EH14 5 is split between three post towns: Juniper Green, Currie and Balerno. Its other postcode sectors are generally one of these, Balerno.
Juniper Green is a village on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland, situated 9 kilometres south-west of the city centre. It bridges the city bypass, and extends along the foothills of the Pentlands. It is bordered by Colinton to the east and Currie to the south-west. It centres on Lanark Road, the main road leading out south-west of Edinburgh into the central Borders. The village stands on an elevated ridge above the Water of Leith to its south.
Currie is a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland, situated 7 miles south west of the city centre. A former village within the County of Midlothian, it lies to the south west of the city, between Juniper Green (NE) and Balerno (SW) on the Lanark Road. Administratively, Currie falls within the jurisdiction of the City of Edinburgh Council. It gives its name to a civil parish.
Balerno is a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland situated 8 miles south-west of the city centre, next to Currie and then Juniper Green. Administratively, Balerno falls within the jurisdiction of the City of Edinburgh Council.
The Royal Mail states that the post town must be included on all items and should be clearly written in capitals.
The use of postcodes means that it is no longer necessary to include the former postal county in a postal address. Some post towns, known as special post towns, never required the inclusion of a postal county, either because the town was large or because it gave its name to the county.
In most places, additional locality information such as a village or suburb name is optionally added above the post town, giving a more specific location: the two largest 'post town' cities named, for example, have many roads of the same name in different localities and the additional locality information is therefore essential if the postcode is wrongly recorded or unknown.
Where this is a disambiguating feature, Royal Mail terms this the "dependent locality". For a limited number of addresses a "double dependent locality" line is also required, preceding the dependent locality line.
Locality information other than the post town is not always part of the official postal address. In particular, within the London post town, each postcode district name (which can conflict with administrative boundaries, see above) corresponds to a numbered postcode district and is therefore not required in the postal address whenever the postcode is used. For example, "Bethnal Green" is the name of the "E2" postcode district and is optional in the following address:
The London postal district is the area in England of 241 square miles (620 km2) to which mail addressed to the LONDON post town is delivered. The General Post Office at the control of the Postmaster General directed Sir Rowland Hill to devise the area in 1856 and throughout its history has been subject to gradual periodic reorganisation and division into increasingly smaller postal units, with the early loss of two compass points and a minor retraction in 1866. It was integrated by the Post Office into the national postcode system of the United Kingdom during the early 1970s and corresponds to the N, NW, SW, SE, W, WC, E and EC postcode areas. The postal district has also been known as the London postal area. The County of London was much smaller at 117 square miles (300 km2), but Greater London is much larger at 607 square miles (1,570 km2).
Bethnal Green is an area in the East End of London which lies 3.3 miles (5.3 km) northeast of Charing Cross. It is an electoral ward of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, though the wider area stretches across both Bethnal Green Ward and St Peter's ward. Part of the area has been designated by the council as a conservation area which includes a number of important listed buildings. The area emerged from the hamlet which developed around the Green, much of which survives today as Bethnal Green Gardens, located on Canbridge Heath Road.
If no valid postcode is provided, or if the sorting machine rejects the letter, the use of optional locality or county information may assist manual sorting. In the absence of a full valid postcode, locality often prevents ambiguity where there is more than one street with the same name covered by a post town or postcode district, or where post towns in different counties have the same name.
Traditionally only, where a place such as a village was served by a post town entirely distinct from its location, the word "Via" or "Near" ("Nr.") was added before the post town. For example:
However, the Royal Mail discourages this usagebecause their optical character recognition technology and Mailsort lookup tables check for the post town at the beginning of a line if the postcode is missing, unreadable or incorrect. Additionally, "Near" and "Nr." can be confused with "North".
Post town names are unique within each former postal county and each postcode area (the initial letter or two letters of the post code). But across the UK, some post towns have identical or similar names. For Mailsort purposes, post towns in unpostcoded addresses can be pre-sorted only if the first 10 characters of the post town name correspond unambiguously to only one post town. In addition, the following post towns have shared sorting routes or cover such large locations that the town name is insufficient for determining the relevant delivery area without reference to the postcode or further locality information:
A postal code is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes. They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office. A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with a number of addresses or a single major delivery point.
The W postcode area, also known as the London W postcode area is a group of postcode districts covering part of central and part of west London, England. The area originates from the Western (W1) and Paddington (W2-14) districts of the London postal district.
The postal counties of the United Kingdom, now known as former postal counties, were postal subdivisions in routine use by the Royal Mail until 1996. The purpose of the postal county – as opposed to any other kind of county – was to aid the sorting of mail by differentiating between like-sounding post towns. Since 1996 this has been done by using the outward code of the postcode instead. For operational reasons the former postal counties, although broadly based on the counties of the United Kingdom, did not match up with their boundaries: in some cases there were significant differences. The boundaries changed over time as post towns were created or amended.
The Postcode Address File (PAF) is a database that contains all known "Delivery Points" and postcodes in the United Kingdom. The PAF is a collection of over 29 million Royal Mail postal addresses and 1.8 million postcodes. It is available in a variety of formats including FTP download and compact disc, and was previously available as Digital Audio Tape. As owner of the PAF, Royal Mail is required by section 116 of the Postal Services Act 2000 to maintain the data and make it available on reasonable terms. A charge is made for lookup services or wholesale supply of PAF data. Charges are regulated by Ofcom. It includes Small User Residential, Small User Organisation and Large User Organisation details. There have been requests as part of the Open Data campaign for the PAF to be released by the government free of charge.
Mailsort was a five-digit address-coding scheme used by the Royal Mail and its business customers for the automatic direction of mail until 2012. Mail users who could present mail sorted by Mailsort code and in quantities of 4,000 upwards receive a discounted postal rate.
The E (Eastern) postcode area, also known as the London E postcode area, is the part of the London post town covering much of the east of Greater London, England as well as Sewardstone, Essex. Since the closure of the East London mail centre during the summer of 2012, mail for the E postcode area is now sorted at Romford Mail Centre, along with mail for the IG and RM postcode areas.
An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used to give the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries and street names as references, along with other identifiers such as house or apartment numbers and organization name. Some addresses also contain special codes, such as a postal code, to make identification easier and aid in the routing of mail.
The WC postcode area, also known as the London WC postcode area, is a group of postcode districts in central London, England. The area covered is of high density development, and includes parts of the City of Westminster and the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington, plus a very small part of the City of London.
A "Postal Address" is a delivery address as defined by Irish Standard - I.S. EN 14142-1:2011, as operated by the Universal Service Provider, An Post. Their addressing guides comply with the addressing guidelines of the Universal Postal Union.
The UB postcode area, also known as the Southall postcode area, is a group of eleven postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of six post towns. These postcode districts cover parts of west and north-west London, as well as a very small part of Buckinghamshire. UB comes from an abbreviation of Uxbridge.
The WD postcode area, also known as the Watford postcode area, is a group of eleven postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of seven post towns. These postcode districts mostly cover south-west Hertfordshire, plus very small parts of Buckinghamshire and Greater London.
The NW postcode area, also known as the London NW postcode area, is a group of postcode districts covering part of northwest London, England. It is the successor of the NW sector, originally created as part of the London postal district in 1856.
The SE postcode area is the post town covering part of south-east London, England. It loosely corresponds to the London Borough of Southwark, London Borough of Lewisham and Royal Borough of Greenwich, the northern part of the London Borough of Croydon, the eastern part of the London Borough of Lambeth, the western part of the London Borough of Bexley and the northwestern part of the London Borough of Bromley.
The TN postcode area, also known as the Tunbridge Wells postcode area, is a group of 40 postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of 24 post towns. These postcode districts cover south Kent and northern and eastern East Sussex. Additionally, small parts of TN14 and TN16 cover the rural southern part of the London Borough of Bromley, while TN16 also covers the village of Tatsfield which, although in the county of Surrey, has a Kent postal address.
The SW postcode area, also known as the London SW postcode area, is a group of postcode districts covering part of southwest London, England. The area originates from the South Western (SW1–SW10) and Battersea (SW11–SW20) districts of the London post town.
Postcodes are used in Australia to more efficiently sort and route mail within the Australian postal system. Postcodes in Australia have four digits and are placed at the end of the Australian address. Postcodes were introduced in Australia in 1967 by the Postmaster-General's Department and are now managed by Australia Post, and are published in booklets available from post offices or online from the Australia Post website.