Diamond Jubilee - the Postcode

2019 marked the 60th Anniversary of the Postcode in the UK.

We enter our Postcode almost daily for online shopping, confirming identity, checking the traffic home, planning journeys for the following day etc. In fact, a recent survey by the Royal Mail showed some people are more likely to know their Postcode than remember birthdays and key anniversaries! But how well do we know the history of the Postcode?

As mail volumes began to increase during the 1850s, it became clear that a comprehensive addressing solution would be required. Initially, this simply meant splitting London into postal districts, based on the points of the compass and each controlled by a separate head office. Many of these London postal districts are still in use today, e.g. SE, NW. The system was later extended to other large towns and cities, however, it wasn’t until 1959 that the then Postmaster General, Ernest Marples, trialled a fuller postal code of the type we know today – in Norwich.

Postcode Address File and Updates
In the early 1980s, the Postcode Address File (PAF) was created, containing all the UK’s business and residential addresses. Data was captured electronically, but maintaining the file with updates was paper-based and slow.

Today PAF is a fully integrated, digital maintenance system that is capable of being updated in real time. It now receives 1,400 updates a day, or over half a million per year, ensuring that it is always the UK’s most accurate and up-to-date addressing database; comprising over 30 million deliverable UK addresses across 1.8 million postcodes.

Unique partnership
Following a careful selection process almost a decade ago, AFD was chosen by Royal Mail to check, process and distribute the primary PAF data to all users of “raw” PAF. This is the data on which over 40,000 organisations rely and is regularly accessed by millions of people daily around the world.

With AFD’s Address Management team together having over 450 years of collective PAF experience, no-one knows the Royal Mail PAF as well as the team at AFD. This knowledge and experience help the thousands of organisations we directly serve to overcome their address data challenges – with the most comprehensive and up to date sources of data. AFD Software is the best option to solve your address data challenges.

Jul. 07, 1959 – “The Postmaster General, Mr. Ernest Marples, this afternoon visited Norwich to inspect the sorting office where eight electronic sorting machines (Elsie) have been installed. He also announced that everyone in and around Norwich is to be given a postal code and asked to use it as the last line of their postal address. This will apply to residents, firms and business houses alike – in fact everyone whose present address includes the words “Norwich, Norfolk”. He said the people of Norwich will be the first in the world to use postal codes in this way. The object is to open the way for the automatic sorting of letters. Photo shows Mr. Ernest Marples feeding letters into one of the electronic sorting machines at Norwich today. Each of the machines costs about £15,000 and sorts 3,000 letters an hour.”

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