News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    Royal Mail logo on van
    22 April 2014
    From Cambridge to Cumbria, Aldeburgh to Argyll: what your postcode says about you

Royal Mail commissioned the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) to conduct analysis of characteristics of the UK through the lens of the postcode to mark the 40th anniversary of the allocation of postcodes to every town in Britain. The research was conducted by reviewing a number of data sources at the local level, including the 2011 Census, the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Indices of Multiple Deprivation, several releases from the Office for National Statistics and lending data from the British Bankers Association and the Council for Mortgage Lenders.

  • To mark the 40th anniversary of the allocation of postcodes to every town in Britain, Royal Mail has commissioned a study into characteristics of the UK through the lens of the postcode
  • The study gives a unique insight across five features of everyday life in 2014 in communities the length and breadth of the UK
  • Health and wellbeing: London has the five healthiest areas by postcode sector in England. The healthiest postcode sectors in Scotland are Langholm (DG13) and Gretna (DG16). In Wales it is Cynderwen in Dyfed (SA66) and in Northern Ireland it is Hillsbrough (BT26). The Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh (IP15) has the highest average age in the UK
  • Work matters: Somerton and Frome in the West Country have the lowest unemployment rates in the UK. Birmingham has the top ranked postcode sector outside London for highest qualified residents
  • The cost of living: London and Surrey are the areas with highest outstanding mortgages in the UK. Postcode sectors in the City of London, Coldstream in Northumberland and the Isle of Islay, Scotland, have some of the highest average personal loan values in the UK
  • Safe and secure: Northumberland and West Cumbria have the lowest crime rates in England. In Scotland it is Shetland (ZE2), in Wales it is Clarbeston Road in Dyfed (SA63) and in Northern Ireland it is Craigavon (BT67)
  • In the home: Poole has the postcode sector with the highest proportion of married couples. Canterbury has the postcode sector with the lowest birth rate
     

Royal Mail has commissioned a study into characteristics of the UK through the lens of the postcode to mark the 40th anniversary of the allocation of postcodes to every town in Britain.

The study gives a unique insight into life in communities the length and breadth of the UK. It is focused on five features of everyday life in 2014, exploring the differences between towns and cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 

Health and wellbeing

(1) London has the five healthiest areas by postcode sector in England. Outside London, Hampshire has the two healthiest postcode areas - Fleet (GU52) and Hook (RG27).

In Scotland, the top three healthiest postcode sectors are in Dumfries and Galloway. They are Langholm (DG13), Gretna (DG16) and Canonbie (DG14), followed by Edinburgh (EH9) and then the PA72 postcode sector representing Argyll and Bute. In Wales, Cynderwen (SA66) is the healthiest postcode sector. In Northern Ireland it is Hillsbrough (BT26).

 

 Ranking

 (1 = healthiest)

Healthiest postcode sectors in England

 1

SW1X  - Central London

 2

EC2V  - Central London

 3

W8  - Central London

 4

SW7  - Central London

 5

EC1A  - Central London

 

Healthiest postcode sectors in Scotland

 1

DG13 – Langholm

 2

DG16 – Gretna

 3

DG14 – Canonbie

 4

EH9 – Edinburgh City

 5

PA72 – Argyll and Bute

 

Healthiest postcode sectors in Wales

 1

SA66 – Clynderwen, Dyfed

 2

NP15 – Usk, Gwent

 3

SA48 – Lampeter, Dyfed

 4

LL56 – Y Felinheli, Gwynedd

 5

LL71 – Llanerchymedd, Gwynedd

 

Healthiest  postcode sectors in Northern Ireland

 1

BT26 – Hillsbrough

 2

BT39 – Ballyclare

 3

BT29 – Crumlin

 4

BT20 – Bangor

 5

BT23 - Newtownards

 

(2) The Suffolk coastal town Aldeburgh (IP15) has the highest average age of population at just over 55 years old. The Isle of Anglesey (LL73) in Wales is in second place. Fife (KY9) has the fifth highest average age population in the UK at just under 54 years old. It is the highest placed postcode sector in Scotland.

 Read the full news release. (PDF 1.01MB)

For more information contact

James Eadie: 020 7441 4269/ 07850 757271
james.r.eadie@royalmail.com

About the postcode

The history of the postcode

In 1959, the first postcodes were trialled in Norwich. Royal Mail started a major mechanism programme designed to use machines to overcome the problems of labour intensive letter sorting. This depended on reducing the address to a machine-readable code. In 1966, the eight-year programme to postcode the whole country began. This was completed in 1974 with the recoding of Norwich.

The postcode today

There are around 1.8 million postcodes in use today across the UK. The use of the postcode has evolved over the years and has now become much more than a tool for driving Royal Mail delivery.

The Postcode Address File (PAF), managed by Royal Mail’s Address Management Unit, contains details of all 29 million UK delivery points. It is used by tens of thousands of organisations and businesses every day to update databases, confirm identities, prevent fraud and support new satellite navigation and location solutions.

Five facts about the postcode

  • There are around 1.8 million postcodes across the UK, covering over 29 million addresses. In total, there are 48 million postcodes available under Royal Mail’s alpha-numeric system
  • The combination of letters and numbers was chosen because people can remember a mixture of numbers and letters more easily than a list of numbers and it gives more code combinations
  • Optical recognition machines read the postcodes and automatically convert them to phosphor dots. These are in turn read by the sorting machines which handle correctly addressed mail, post-coded letters 20 times faster than manual sorting
  • On average one postcode covers 17 residential addresses
  • Royal Mail’s online Postcode Finder is one of the UK’s most used webpages with around 100,000 visits a day – more than 40 million a year