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London postal district

The system of London postal districts in the inner part of London predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. The first system, of ten sectors identified by letters, was introduced in 1858; the numbered subdivisions date from 1917. The 1917 subdivisions remain important, because they form the first part of the two-part modern postcode (so N1 1AA is an address in the old N1 district), and because they continue to be used by Londoners to refer to their districts.

The London postal districts are organized by sectors, as follows, and then numbered within their sectors.

Note that London postal districts rarely coincide with the boundaries of London boroughs (even the old, smaller boroughs). The numbering system also appears arbitrary on the map: for example, NW1 is close to central London, but NW2 is a long way out. This is because, within each sector, they were numbered by first assigning the number 1 to the closest district to the centre, and then the rest of the number were assigned alphabetically by the name of the district they represented.

Matters are confused further by the fact that the postal districts considered to be "London" do not correspond to local government boundaries - neither the pre-1965 London County Council nor the Greater London Council/Greater London Authority boundaries are identical to the area covered by EC, EW, N, NW, E, W, SE & SW. As a result there are places within Greater London that don't have "London" postcodes (eg, Enfield).

It is common to use postal districts as placenames in London, particularly in the property market: a property may be described as being "in N11".

The postal districts are:

The soap opera EastEnders is set in the fictional London postal district of London E20.

There are no London postal districts labelled "NE" or "S". These were in the initial division but were later removed as they were considered unnecessary. These two codes have since been applied to Newcastle Upon Tyne and Sheffield respectively.

The outer London postal districts do not fully comply with the boundaries of Greater London. The following include areas approximately within the boundary of the M25 motorway:

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