60 Years of the Postcode

Updated: Aug 6, 2019



You’re not properly addressed without it


2019 marks the 60 year anniversary of the introduction of the 6 digit postcode we use today. We look back at the bumpy road that has led to where we are now and how we can use them for responsive, cost effective marketing campaigns


Initial Stages


Beginning in Norwich on a trial basis in 1959, using the code ‘NOR’ followed by 3 characters to represent a street the initial outcome was not as successful as hoped, but this didn’t deter Royal Mail. Numerous trials were conducted elsewhere throughout the 1960s until all previous issues had been resolved, culminating with the full nationwide rollout in 1974.


New Technology


During the 1980s, postage took its next leap forward through the introduction of Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This system reads the postcodes of printed addresses and prints the appropriate phosphorescent dots (codes) on to the envelope. This was a huge step in terms of automation, resulting in the volume of letters mail centres could handle increasing exponentially.



As mail volumes moving through the UK continuously grew, the need for an even more automated system also grew. 1997 saw the introduction of Integrated Mail Processors (IMPs). This system, still in place today, processes the letter from the moment it enters the mail centre to the moment it’s dispatched - culling (sizing), facing, coding, sorting and cancelling the mail.


Special Postcodes


Postcodes are generated by Royal Mail's Address Management Unit, meaning they cannot be purchased or specified. However some high profile organisations have been assigned semi-mnemonic postcodes. Here’s a few of the best examples:


BT - DH98 1BT

ExCeL London - E16 1XL

Facebook - W1T 1FB

BBC Radio 1 - W1N 4DJ

TSB Bank - BX4 7SB

Dartford FC - DA1 1RT

Two Lochs Radio - IV21 2LR

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club - S6 1SW


How we can make your postcode data work for you.


Eight Days a Week can utilise postcodes in a number of ways for a business looking to expand their customer base, and save them money while communicating with them too.


92% of people say they read door drops that get delivered to their home*

As a Royal Mail 'Mail Made Easy' partner we can use our state of the art software together with your existing customer postcodes to analyse their demographics helping you find more like them in other areas. By using unaddressed targeted leaflet door drops with fully GDPR compliant occupier address information more of your target customers can be cost effectively communicated to through a highly responsive channel. Find out more here



If you do have full customer addresses we can use our state of the art mail sortation software to check the accuracy, pre-sort and print mail in postcode order.

Mail pre-sorted in this manner can be sent directly to the correct mail centre, removing several levels of sortation normally undertaken by Royal mail resulting in substantial discounts and savings on postage costs for your direct mail campaigns.


If you'd like more information on how we can help connect you to more customers using postcodes get in touch.


Tel: 0115 939 9797

Email: solutions@edwps.co.uk






*Source: Royal Mail MarketReach, Iluminas 2014.

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Eight Days a Week Print Solutions, 1 Glaisdale Point, Glaisdale Parkway, Nottingham, NG8 4GP