What's in a Postcode?

Where Are You Headed?

Soon into conducting the research for any British vacation after booking London flights, you'll most certainly come across the UK's strange letter-number combinations attached to the end of many street addresses. EC1, SW7, WC2 – what do these mean? Essentially, their purpose is no different than that of US zip codes. However, the good news is that – in the case of London anyway – the postcode can inform you to a large extent about which part of London a place is located.


Postcodes are used to identify specific areas of London. As you might expect, “E” as the first character in a postcode stands for east, “N” stands for north, “S” for south and “W” for west. “SE” would then obviously mean “south-east” and so forth. Perhaps not quite as intuitive, “C” as a second letter in a postcode means “central.” So, for example, a postcode beginning with “WC” would indicate the location with a WC postcode is in west central London.

But that's just the first half of the equation, and admittedly the most important for folks just hoping to get a general idea of where a particular place happens to be situated. A postcode always has two sections, an outward and inward code separated by a blank space. The outward code is first bit as characterized above while the inward code follows it with a mix of letters and numbers narrowed down to an even more specific area such as a particular street or neighbourhood.

A few postcodes areas worth noting for most visitors are as follows:
E20: Stratford, site of the London 2012 Olympic Village;
EC1: Clerkenwell with its thriving pub and restaurant scene;
EC2: Bank, Barbican and Liverpool Street – location of London's financial district;
EC3: Tower Hill and Aldgate – home of the Tower of London and the north side of Tower Bridge;
EC4: St. Paul's, Blackfriars and Fleet Street – St Paul's Cathedral;
NW1: Camden Town, home to the famous Camden Market;
SE10: World famous Greenwich;
SW1: St. James's, Westminster, Victoria, Pimlico and Belgravia – St James's Park, Green Park, Buckingham Palace;
SW7: Knightsbridge and South Kensington home of Harrods, upscale restaurants and shopping;
SW19: Wimbledon;
W1: Chinatown, Fitzrovia, Hyde Park, Marylebone, Mayfair, Piccadilly, Soho, West End;
W11: Notting Hill – Portobello Market;
WC1: Bloomsbury, home to the British Museum and King's Cross – St Pancras Station;
WC2: Covent Garden, Holborn, and the Strand.

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