Postal addresses: a little history and a lot of photos

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright February 2014, Chris Downer; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


The HP postcode area is based on Hemel Hempstead and extends southward, westward and northward from there but barely at all eastward. Much more of the area is in Buckinghamshire than in Hertfordshire.

HP1-3 postal address HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, Herts.
HP4 postal address BERKHAMSTED, Herts.
HP5 postal address CHESHAM, Bucks.
TL0306 : Houses at Boxmoor by Graham Horn TL0507 : Hemel Hempstead: High Street by Nigel Cox TL0505 : Canalside gardens and mooring at Apsley by Marathon SP9907 : Berkhamsted - former town hall by Dave Bevis SP9601 : Chesham High Street by Malc McDonald

HP6-7 postal address AMERSHAM, Bucks.
HP8 postal address CHALFONT ST. GILES, Bucks.
HP9 postal address BEACONSFIELD, Bucks.
SU9698 : Hill Avenue, Amersham by Des Blenkinsopp SU9597 : The Market Hall by Des Blenkinsopp SU9893 : Chalfont St Giles: The Fox and Hounds by Nigel Cox SU9490 : Beaconsfield, Old Coaching Centre by Colin Smith

HP10-15 postal address HIGH WYCOMBE, Bucks.
HP16 postal address GREAT MISSENDEN, Bucks.
SU9090 : Snakeley Close, Loudwater by Jonathan Billinger SU8692 : Wycombe High Street by john bristow SU8492 : Residential hillside, High Wycombe by Andrew Smith
SU8793 : Hillview Road, High Wycombe by Andrew Smith SU8294 : High Street, West Wycombe by Dave Hitchborne SU8996 : Eastern Dean, Hazlemere by Andrew Smith SP8901 : High Street, Gt Missenden by Pip Rolls

HP17-22 postal address AYLESBURY, Bucks.
HP23 postal address TRING, Herts.
HP27 postal address PRINCES RISBOROUGH, Bucks.
(separated from AYLESBURY, HP17, in May 1992)
SP7408 : Village Duck Pond, Haddenham by Richard Rogerson SP6908 : Village Centre Long Crendon by Shaun Ferguson SP7914 : Scott End by Burgess Von Thunen SP8114 : Wesleyan Church by Des Blenkinsopp
SP8112 : Southcourt Brook in Aylesbury by Nigel Cox SP8510 : Weston Turville: The Chandos Arms by Nigel Cox SP9211 : Metcalfe's hardware shop, Tring by Rob Farrow SP8003 : The Market House in Princes Risborough by Steve Daniels


HR stands for Hereford and is this is one of the postcode areas which most closely matches its associated county: all its post towns are in Herefordshire and all of Herefordshire's post towns fall within HR. (LE and NN have similarly coterminous boundaries.)

Within the HEREFORD post town itself, HR1 covers the city centre and the rural east; HR2 towards the rural south/southwest; HR3 is in the rural far west; and HR4 heads towards the rural north/northwest.

HR3 does include a small area around Hay-on-Wye, in Powys, and likewise HR5 around Gladestry.

HR1-4 postal address HEREFORD
SO5139 : Hereford: the River Wye and the cathedral by Chris Downer SO3636 : The Old House, Vowchurch by Philip Pankhurst SO2242 : High Town, Hay-on-Wye by Jaggery SO4051 : Weobley Village by P Fletcher

HR5 postal address KINGTON, Herefordshire
HR6 postal address LEOMINSTER, Herefordshire
HR7 postal address BROMYARD, Herefordshire
HR8 postal address LEDBURY, Herefordshire
HR9 postal address ROSS-ON-WYE, Herefordshire

SO3164 : High Street by Richard Webb SO4959 : Part of Broad Street, Leominster by Jeremy Bolwell SO6554 : Bromyard - The Falcon Hotel by Peter Whatley SO7037 : Talbot hotel, Ledbury by Julian P Guffogg SO6024 : Buildings in Brookend Street by Pauline E


HS is the UK's newest postcode area, having been created in 1995, before which the Outer Hebrides used a PA postcode. The numbering of the HS districts is in reverse order to the old PA numbers. At the same time, apart from in the Stornoway town area, the place-name post towns were changed to the island names.

HS1 postal address STORNOWAY, Isle of Lewis (PA87 until Jan. 1995)
HS2 postal address ISLE OF LEWIS (PA86 until Jan. 1995)
HS3 postal address ISLE OF HARRIS (HARRIS, Isle of Harris, PA85 until Jan. 1995)
HS4 postal address ISLE OF SCALPAY (PA84 until Jan. 1995)
HS5 postal address ISLE OF HARRIS (LEVERBURGH, Isle of Harris, PA83 until Jan. 1995)
NB4232 : Stornoway: a view over the town and harbour by Chris Downer NB2133 : Callanish: the stones from a distance east by Chris Downer NG0597 : Seilebost: rocks south of the beach by Chris Downer NG2494 : Scalpay: Eilean Glas by Chris Downer NG0186 : Leverburgh from Greabhal by Mike Dunn

HS6 postal address ISLE OF NORTH UIST (LOCHMADDY, Isle of North Uist, PA82 (part) until Jan. 1995)
HS7 postal address ISLE OF BENBECULA (PA82 (part) until Jan. 1995)
HS8 postal address ISLE OF SOUTH UIST (LOCHBOISDALE, Isle of South Uist, PA81 until Jan. 1995)
HS9 postal address ISLE OF BARRA (CASTLEBAY, Isle of Barra, PA80 until Jan. 1995)
NF7571 : South Clettraval: view over Loch Steaphain by Chris Downer NF7755 : Runway at Benbecula Airport by Colin Smith NF7938 : South Uist's mountains across Loch Druidibeag by Rob Farrow NL6798 : Castlebay: heading into the village from the east by Chris Downer


The HU area concerns itself with Kingston-upon-Hull, or simply HULL as it is postally. The area covers the surroundings of the city as far as Brough, Cottingham and Hornsea. The HU20 district is something of a curiosity, falling outside the relatively logical numbering which more or less spirals clockwise from the city centre.

At Local Government reorganisation in 1974, the new county of Humberside was treated by the Royal Mail as two counties, North Humberside and South Humberside.

NB Royal Mail ceased the requirement for county names on addresses in 1996 and these were not updated after local government reorganisation of the following year. Therefore, N. Humberside remains correct for postal purposes and East Yorkshire has never been officially adopted much to the chagrin of many of the residents of the area who very much identify themselves with Yorkshire.

HU1-12 postal address HULL
TA0928 : Hull City Hall, Kingston upon Hull by Ian S TA0929 : Caroline Street, Kingston upon Hull by Bernard Sharp TA0726 : Trans Pennine Trail by David Wright TA0527 : 13 - 24 Pickering Crescent, Hull by Paul Glazzard
TA0630 : Allotments on National Avenue, Hull by Charles Rispin TA0731 : Cottingham Road, Kingston upon Hull by Bernard Sharp TA1033 : Holwell Road, Bransholme by Stephen Horncastle TA1231 : East Park Avenue, Kingston upon Hull by Bernard Sharp
TA1328 : P & O Terminal by Eirian Evans TA0129 : The Wheatsheaf, Kirk Ella by Peter Church TA2438 : The War Memorial, Aldbrough by Peter Church TA3910 : Spurn Point from the air by Thomas Nugent

HU13 postal address HESSLE, N. Humberside
HU14 postal address NORTH FERRIBY, N. Humberside
HU15 postal address BROUGH, N. Humberside
HU16 postal address COTTINGHAM, N. Humberside
TA0225 : Long shadows by Paul Glazzard SE9825 : North Ferriby Foreshore by Andy Beecroft SE9326 : Brough Haven by David Wright TA0432 : Market Green, Cottingham by Paul Glazzard

HU17 postal address BEVERLEY, N. Humberside
HU18 postal address HORNSEA, N. Humberside
HU19 postal address WITHERNSEA, N. Humberside
HU20 postal address COTTINGHAM, N. Humberside
TA0339 : Beverley: Saturday Market from the northwest by Chris Downer TA2048 : Hornsea Beach, sea defences and clay cliffs by Peter Church TA3427 : The Sandcastle by Richard Croft SE9833 : Little Weighton, Old Village Road by Roger Gilbertson


HX are the first and last letters of Halifax and this smaller than average postcode area extends generally westward from the town.

HX1-4 postal address HALIFAX, W. Yorkshire
SE0925 : Piece Hall by Tim Marchant SE0726 : Lane Ends - Wheatley Road by Betty Longbottom SE1225 : The Whitehall, Leeds Road, Hipperholme by Alexander P Kapp SE0821 : Sunnybank Road, Greetland by Humphrey Bolton

HX5 postal address ELLAND, W. Yorkshire
HX6 postal address SOWERBY BRIDGE, W. Yorkshire
HX7 postal address HEBDEN BRIDGE, W. Yorkshire

SE1120 : South End, Elland by Humphrey Bolton SE0623 : Sowerby Bridge by Alex McGregor SD9827 : Rochdale Canal, Hebden Bridge by David Dixon


The G in IG is perhaps the biggest conundrum in the whole of the UK postcode system, because the IG area is Ilford. Each letter of the word Ilford is available to follow I, so where does the G come from? This is a question to which I have not found a definitive answer. One suggestion is that IG stands for Ilford, Greater London: that is surely nonsense as no other postcode area features a county in this way and numerous other postcode areas are based in Greater London. Another suggestion that it is the G in Chigwell seems unlikely, but there is perhaps some merit in the thought that IG are the first and last letters of 'Ilford & Barking'. But IB is available and would surely be preferred? The suggestion that holds water the most is perhaps that IG is derived from 'Ilford & Gants Hill' but this is still not entirely satisfactory; Gants Hill is relatively minor and is so close to Ilford that one would surely assume that it was in the same area.

Anyway, after all that, however it derives its name the IG area is a narrow, tall area extending from Barking in the south to Loughton in the north.

The addresses within Greater London but outside the London postcode areas still allude to their historical counties, so Essex is still the correct county name.

IG1-6 postal address ILFORD, Essex
TQ4386 : Ilford Exchange shopping centre by Stacey Harris TQ4388 : Gants Hill street scene by Andrew Dann TQ4687 : Clock Tower, Goodmayes by Malc McDonald
TQ4288 : Redbridge Lane East, Redbridge by Stacey Harris TQ4390 : Wedmore Avenue by Peter Wyatt TQ4490 : Fullwell Cross: The former State cinema by Nigel Cox

IG7 postal address CHIGWELL, Essex
IG8 postal address WOODFORD GREEN, Essex
IG9 postal address BUCKHURST HILL, Essex
IG10 postal address LOUGHTON, Essex
IG11 postal address BARKING, Essex

TQ4493 : Chigwell: The former King's Head public house now Sheesh (1) by Nigel Cox TQ4092 : Frosty morning, Woodford Green by John Davies TQ4094 : St James Church tower by Robin Webster TQ4296 : Forest Road, Loughton by Derek Harper TQ4484 : Street Market in Barking by Des Blenkinsopp


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