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Stephen and the North

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ghughesarch
1171849.  Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:16 pm Reply with quote

Could someone please get Stephen a road atlas that doesn't finish at Watford? A couple of series ago we had his astonishment at the existence of St Helens (a town with a larger population than Norwich) as something other than just a Rugby League team, and now, in last night's XL, his statement that Barnsley is south of Wigan. They are at almost exactly the same latitude - within a hundred metres.

I'll admit, I'm always surprised that Edinburgh is west of Liverpool.

 
suze
1171850.  Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:46 pm Reply with quote

To be fair, is there a great deal in St Helens beyond a rugby league team, a glassworks, and Johnny Vegas?


Some towns and cities have a point which is by convention regarded as the centre of town. It's well known that for London this point is Charing Cross, but for most towns there is nothing so clear cut.

No one argued much when we once used the Scott Monument to define the centre of Edinburgh, while Cardiff Castle was preferred to the Millennium Stadium as being the centre of that fair city.

But if there's nothing obvious, I'm being told that there are two common conventions. If you're using mapping software, the easy one is to use the centroid of the 1AA postcode. When the postcode system was developed in the late 60s, 1AA was always allocated to the main post office - although in most cases postcodes have not been changed even if the post office has moved since then. If you're using paper maps, it's often easier to use the town hall.

If we go by town halls, Barnsley is 33 seconds (1,020 meters) north of Wigan. If we go by 1AA (S70 vs WN1), Barnsley is 17 seconds (526 meters) north of Wigan.

So they are indeed at extremely similar latitudes, but you've absolutely caught Stephen out here!

 
ghughesarch
1171851.  Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:55 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
To be fair, is there a great deal in St Helens beyond a rugby league team, a glassworks, and Johnny Vegas?



Stephen did actually think that St Helens was only the name of the rugby team. Hmmm. I was born there (for a very short time went to school with Johnny Vegas in fact) and now live in Norwich, so um...

 
dr.bob
1171890.  Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:18 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
When the postcode system was developed in the late 60s, 1AA was always allocated to the main post office


I never knew SW1A 1AA used to be a post office :)

 
suze
1171977.  Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:04 pm Reply with quote

Not only did it used to be a post office, but it still is one. Here is one of a number of articles which have talked about it.

The Buckingham Palace post office has a counter like any other post office, and if you work at the Palace then you can go in and buy a stamp just as at any post office. I've a feeling that you can see the red and yellow Post Office sign from the courtyard in which the Queen gets into her car.

 
Jenny
1172071.  Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:37 pm Reply with quote

Stephen lives in Norfolk, doesn't he? I would have thought he was quite well acquainted with Norwich.

 
dr.bob
1172128.  Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:23 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Not only did it used to be a post office, but it still is one. Here is one of a number of articles which have talked about it.


That's awesome! :)

Is the same true of W1A 1AA?

 
suze
1172256.  Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:39 pm Reply with quote

No.

It's a special case, and the only instance in which a 1AA postcode was allocated to a not-post-office. "The BBC asked nicely" is the most likely explanation that anyone can give, but who decided so and why has not been documented.

 
dr.bob
1172388.  Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:37 am Reply with quote

That's very cool too.

I remember that postcode vividly from my childhood, as it was always read out during children's programmes if they were inviting you to write in for something or other.

I can see how it would benefit the Beeb to have a postcode that was easy to read out and remember. I guess this was back in the days where public institutions like the BBC and the Post Office used to do little favours for each other.

 
dstarfire
1181100.  Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:04 am Reply with quote

ghughesarch wrote:

Stephen did actually think that St Helens was only the name of the rugby team.


I live (and grew up in) the northwestern US, and I've known St. Helens was the name of an British town for over a decade. Used to get idiots from there all the time trying to turn our chat room into a hookup site.

 

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