Postcode

postboxThe story of SE26 started nearly 150 years ago as London became too big to be handled as a single postal area. In 1858 the Post Office divided London into 8 sectors:

  • Central London – WC & EC (West & East Central)
  • Inner London – N, NW, SW, SE, W & E

In 1917 the Post office introduced numbered postal districts. Sydenham became SE26. Why 26?

Nothing to do with location as we are bordered by Penge (SE20) & Catford (SE6). The number was allocated alphabetically according to the district associated with the sector. Sydenham comes between South Norwood (SE25) and West Norwood (SE27).

SE26 doesn’t exactly match up with what we know as Sydenham. Cross the railway tracks at Penge East and you are still in SE26 (just).

In the 1960s the Post Office introduced postcodes to enable the mechanisation of letter sorting. In SE26 an extra number and two letters were added on to the postal district. Our address became SE26 6ZR. The 6 in 6ZR is the postal area within Sydenham. The division appears to be:

  • 4 – Kirkdale & Wells Park
  • 5 – Central & Lower Sydenham
  • 6 – Upper Sydenham & Lawrie Park

Our last 2 letters ZR is sometimes known as the ‘walk’ as it approximates to a group of addresses served by a postman. It can be a single address (for major companies) or up to 80 residential addresses.

You can discover who shares your postcode by using the postcode finder at www.royalmail.com. You can sometimes discover surprising neighbours by ‘googling’ on your postcode.

Is your postcode important to anyone other than the postman? Well yes – the credit agencies and insurance companies use your postcode. So – if you live in the wrong part of town – getting a loan or cheap insurance may be more difficult. Estate Agents use post codes when they suggest opulence – which excludes SE26. Indeed we were surprised to see one Lawrie Park property advertised as ‘Dulwich Borders’ with excellent shopping in Dulwich Village – despite the fact it was 10 times the distance of Penge High Street….. so check the postcode!

Sydenham Delivery Office, London SE26
The heart of SE26 until October 2007 was Silverdale Sorting Office looking much the same as when it was built in 1896. The box outside has a handy 1pm collection on Sundays. The new flats on the left are on the site of the old Rink cinema.

From November 2007 the Delivery Office has been merged with Forest Hill and is where you need to collect undelivered mail. You can, however, rearrange a delivery free of charge on the www.royalmail.com website. Details:
Telephone: 020 8291 5441
Address: Forest Hill Industrial Estate, Perry Vale, London SE23 2LZ

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