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PAF® hits 30 million mark!

Interesting things happen every day and some of those interesting things become part of history. Our history books (or digital equivalents) tell us that 15 June 1215, is the date that the Magna Carta was signed, on the same day in 1921 Bessie Coleman became the first female pilot of African-American descent. And on 15 June 1752, Benjamin Franklin experimented by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. The result was a little spark that showed the relationship between lightning and electricity. All fascinating facts and all have their place in history, but what do these things have in common with PAF?  Probably not a lot, apart from the date, that on the 15 June 2017, the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF) reached 30 million residential and business delivery points.  Whilst this fact might not make the history books or your app, it is still an interesting fact especially, for those of us that like address data!

So as a reminder, or a bit of fascinating info for first time visitors to our site, here is a little lesson in the history of the postcode.

  • The UK was the first country in the world to introduce postcodes in London in 1857-58. (There are currently twelve countries that now have a postcode system.)
  • The Postcode was then introduced nearly 100 years later in Norwich, as part of a major mechanism programme.
  • PAF was first launched in the early 1980s. Initially data was captured electronically with changes submitted on paper.
  • In 1992 – as a result of advances in digital technology – Royal Mail implemented a fully integrated, digital maintenance system that made it possible to update information in real time.
  • PAF now contains more than 1.8 million UK Postcodes covering more than 30 million delivery points.
  • Today a team of 73 people processes as many as 5,000 updates a day to the 30 million delivery point addresses in PAF making it the most accurate addressing database in the country.

The evolution of PAF has happened over a number of years. It was originally created to help speed up the routing and delivery of mail. Now it has become an integral part of our everyday lives, helping us with directions, buying items online and even used to confirm our identity over the phone.

Just like the discovery of the first spark of electricity has gone on to light up our world, the postcode has helped revolutionise our society. Not perhaps as radically as electricity, but still a significant development.  Perhaps PAF is just like other great achievements and inventions after all?  It has helped and will continue to help us all, address and connect now and in the future.

Nicky Went

Communication and Compliance Manager

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