This is what Royal Mail's Press Release - issued in the last few days of 2008 - had to say about this milestone:
50 years on - 1.7 million postcodes continue to deliver across the UK -
We all have one and undoubtedly take it for granted, but 50 years on since it was first introduced, the postcode is still an invaluable tool for Royal Mail and many other industries. In 1959 the first postcodes were introduced in Norwich with the first half of the postcode NOR representing the city name, and the last three characters each individual street. During the 1960s postcodes were rolled out to all addresses across the UK. The use of the postcode has developed and it is now much more than a delivery tool for Royal Mail, forming the backbone of many services such as online shopping and satellite navigation systems. The very first steps toward the modern day postcode were taken in 1857 when, faced with London’s ever-burgeoning population, Sir Rowland Hill, inventor of the postage stamp, introduced a scheme to accelerate mail delivery. This divided the capital into 10 separate postal districts - N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE, SW, EC and WC. The public were then asked to add these district letters to the bottom of addresses. There are now in excess of 1.7 million postcodes across the UK, covering 27 million addresses. Postcoded letters can be read by Royal Mail’s machinery and sorted 20 times faster than by hand. However millions of people still forget to put the postcode on letters and cards with almost 20% of non-business letters, cards and packets not bearing a full or accurate postcode. Giles Finnemore, Head of Marketing at Royal Mail’s Address Management team, said: "Although the postcode is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2009 it’s still as important today as it ever was to help Royal Mail sort and deliver mail quickly and efficiently. Our postcode system now lies at the heart of many forms of modern technology, such satnav systems, online mapping and route planners and of course online shopping." Did you know? • Royal Mail’s online postcode checker gets around 4.5 million hits per month - equivalent to 55 million checks per year • Santa Claus has his own special postcode - SAN TA1 - and gets 750,000 letters every year to his North Pole address • Some famous addresses have their own postcode - Albert Square in Eastenders (E20), Coronation Street (M10) and Ambridge, home to the Archers (AM1)
So how did they decide to mark the anniversary - special miniature sheet? Smilers Sheet? No, all was deadly quiet until last Friday when a small entry in their Postmark Bulletin announced that letter cancelling machinery would have a commemorative postmark for a few days.
INK-JET SLOGAN POSTMARKS
An ink-jet slogan marking the 50th anniversary of the introduction of postcodes at Norwich on 8 October 1959 will be used 6-12 October at mail centres applying ink-jet postmarks. A bilingual version is intended for use at mail centres processing mail posted in Wales.
In addition, metal slogan dies are expected to be used at Norwich Mail Centre, 5-18 October. Eight dies are being sent to Norwich
- Code It Keep It/Prevent Crime;
- Get The Most From Your Post/Code It;
- Help Us Push Postcodes;
- Pass On Your Postcode;
- Prevent Crime/Postcode Valuables;
- Remember to Use The Postcode;
- Be Properly Addressed/Postcode it; and
- Sealed & Postcoded Correctly Addressed/Mechanisation/Will Do The Rest.
Six of these eight dies are expected to be used in the three CFCs (Culler Facer Cancellers); dependent on operational requirements.
This announcement is for information only. Collectors are reminded that Royal Mail no longer offers a reposting service for slogan postmarks. An article on the 50th anniversary of postcodes is published in the October issue of the British Philatelic Bulletin.
Look out for all 8 - and the more widespread ink-jet slogans from the IMP machines, including the bi-lingual ones from Wales. Send us your images to show here, please!
Images of all the postmarks so far seen are in a new message here.