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Crystal Palaces, Postcodes and original address

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#1 Axean



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Posted 18 December 2006 - 02:02 PM

An original discussion started to go off topic so I've posted my reply here.

The 200 acres of Crystal Palace Park straddles Crystal Palace, Anerley and Penge. Crystal Palace or Upper Norwood is SE19 but Anerley and Penge is SE20.

I work as a Land Surveyor, and postcodes have been a pet-hate since student days. Some people hate poor grammer, for me its postcodes. The worst thing I could ever have done was move to an area divided by postal codes. When I hear postcodes used to describe an area, I always bite.

I can give an expert answer. Postcodes have not, do not and never will officially define an area, they are system created by one company to sort its product. The boundaries of postcodes are not properly geographically referenced. If the perceived boundary of a postcode coincides with an official boundary it is just a a fluke. Crystal Palace or Upper Norwood cannot be in SE19. Anerley and Penge cannot be in SE20. The Park provides a good example of this. It is one location but different letterboxes have different postcodes.

The 200 hundred acres of Crystal Palace Park do not straddle any official boundaries. It does not straddle Crystal Palace, Anerley and Penge. Crystal Palace Park is contained entirely within the Crystal Palace Ward, which in turn is in the London Borough of Bromley. Until recently Crystal Palace did not to officially exist as an area, but it does now. Anerley no longer officially exists. But the area described by the Crystal Palace Ward is not the Crystal Palace Area we all think of. I think most of us would say the Crystal Palace Area is the the park and land around it with a larger area around the Parade and Anerley Hill/Road.

When the Crystal Palace was built the lands did straddle the boundary of three official area's. But arguably had nothing to do with Sydenham. I assume giving the address as Sydenham was a means of describing or advertising the location to a population who would have had no idea where "Penge Hill" was. The Crystal Palace at Sydenham was meant to have been accessed via a railway line from Sydenham Station.

Edited by Axean, 18 December 2006 - 02:35 PM.

#2 Julius



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Posted 18 December 2006 - 04:32 PM

Hello Axean

Thanks for the inforamation but the postcodes I described to have been in place since I moved to this beautiful area nearly 25 years ago.

You say that you can give an expert answer, if these areas do not have a postcode i.e SE19, SE20 or SE26 what are the correct postal addresses? I live in Crystal Palace and my postal code is London SE19. My friend lives in Penge and her postal code is London SE20, how do you explain this?

Ever since I have lived here the postal codes have always been Anerley and Penge both London SE20. Crystal Palace or Upper Norwood, London SE19. Farquhar Road for example abutts the park and comes under Southwark, not Bromley, but it is still London SE19.

Who has said Anerley does not exist? Just because politically Crystal Palace ward replaced the Anerley ward does not mean that Anerley does not exist!

When the Crystal Palace was first built and opened, it was at Penge Place, not Penge Hill, owned by the director of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, but the address was still Sydenham in Kent. Sydenham, Anerley and Penge were countryside villages of Kent and Surry then and postal codes were added later.

#3 komodo



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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:59 PM

Axean - are you upset about the fact that people in SE19 (Upper Norwood in the old postcde lists) are saying they and they alone are the new oh so very arbitary area of Crystal Palace? You cannot deny that SE20 is meant to stand for Anerley and Penge!!
Some parts of SE19 seem more proper Upper Norwood to me and not Crystal Palace at all. (note the distinction made by the buses). So I am happy to let those from surrounding Areas and Post codes say they live in CP.
Personally I rather like the old telephone exchanges as a way of classification so with a 670 number I am clearly in Gipsy Hill!

#4 matt



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Posted 19 December 2006 - 11:03 AM

No - Axean was just saying that postcodes don't determine an area (at least thats how I read it). And I would firmly agree. Postcodes are just the post offices way of organising geography - as every postal address is in the database, in a hierarchical system, its very useful in all sorts of ways - but that doesn't mean that its got any sort of overarching authority over what a particular area's boundaries are.

#5 Axean



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Posted 22 December 2006 - 04:54 PM

Matt understood what I meant. A postcode area (se19) and an administrative area (upper norwood) are two separate things. The two have no true link.

Proper addresses are long, complicated and inconsistent. Fifty years ago Royal Mail workers would spend significant time reading an address and working out which local sorting office the letter had to go to. For example, letters to the Crystal Palace Museum and the Crystal Palace Park need to go to two different sorting offices, but the address could indicate the same place. Postcodes were created forty years ago by the Royal Mail to allow Royal Mail workers to sort letters out quickly. They indicated which sorting office the post would go to. They are like the account numbers you will have with many companies. When you phone up your gas provider they will ask for your account number.

When a postcode was allocated an an address, it was done by looking at the location of the sorting office best located to deliver to that address. The areas created by postcodes (se19) had nothing to with official administrative areas (upper norwood).
Julius and Komodo, you both think postcodes were allocated to existing areas. That is where I think your getting confused. But its a shame the Royal Mail didnt do that. You should think of postcode 'areas' as areas created by drawing a circle around a sorting office on a map. And this circle was drawn on a map which didnt show any official boundary's.

Royal Mail does provide rough information on what areas might be found within a postcode. But it makes it clear these are just to indicate what area of the country the postcode is in. Royal Mail makes it very clear their postcode system was created to sort mail for sorting offices, and postcodes have no link with official boundary's.
So Anerley and Penge have never been given the postcode SE20, since areas were never given postcodes. Upper Norwood was never give the postcode SE19.

I hope its clearer now, :ph34r:

I'm not worried about Upper Norwood trying claim exclusive rights to the name "Crystal Palace", but I'll bite when I see an official area described using a postcode. Using SE19 to describe Crystal Palace is worse since the agreed area and park falls into three postal areas. But I suppose it would be worse if something was being provided for Crystal Palace, then heard it was only going to be provided to SE19.

Does Anerley no longer exist? I still use Anerley to describe an area, but as far as official administrative areas go, its a dodo. The way distant government officials create and destroy historic areas just to make their paperwork simpler is not something I like. Areas should be created to bring communties together.

I know that the Crystal Palace was moved to Penge Place, but I wondered if saying it was at Sydenham (or Sydenham Hill) was a way of advertising its location to a public who were encouraged to reach the building via Sydenham Station. I once did a search of newspapers before 1851 to see if I could find how the area was described to the rest of London. Norwood was most commonly used, but Penge Hill was used several times to describe the area along the Crystal Palace 'ridge'. I think a house on the other side of the ridge, near College Rd, was described as being at "Penge Hill"

#6 bebofpenge



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Posted 13 August 2009 - 07:26 AM

Postcodes simply reflect which Post Office sorting office delivers to a particular address. The Sydenham office delived to the main entrance of the Crystal Palace so it had a postal district SE26. The Penge gate, when there was an office there, was SE20. Parts of Beckenham receive their mail from the Anerley office so, much to the chagrin of residents, they are in SE20.

The parts of the Crystal Palace Park that were in Kent were in Beckenham (even though the postal district was SE26). The rest of the Park was in Surrey and hence in Penge.

If you want all the tedious details, go to Wikipedia.

#7 Joy Dean

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:47 PM

How confusing these matters can be :)

When I was born in Beckenham, it was in Kent, thus I was and still am a Kentish Maid. Then it became part of the GLC. BR2 rings a bell, but I could be wrong, that may have been Hayes :)