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Introduction of London postal districts

The idea of dividing London and Greater London into districts was put forward by Rowland Hill in 1838. It was devised to accelerate the delivery of mail splitting the city into ten separate districts, each denoted by the compass points: EC (Eastern Central District), WC (Western Central District), and NW, N, NE, E, SE, S, SW and W. These were contained within a twelve mile radius of central London. The public were instructed to add these initials to the end of an address. This plan was implemented in 1857-58. This formed the origins of the London and Greater London districts we know today.

The idea wasn’t received well by everyone. It was the first time that the Postcodes and district had been used to denote social status. A Hackney-based doctor complained about being moved from NE to an E Postcode. He was worried that many of his patients wouldn’t want to travel to him if he was located in Hackney, a district that was seen as ‘working class’.

The numbers were added to London postal districts during World War I when women began delivering mail while the men were away fighting.

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