Celebrating 40 years of the humble postcode. What’s been going on in GU25 in the past four decades?

It’s been 40 years since postcodes were rolled-out across the UK to make letter sorting easier. Originally trialled in Norwich, 1974 saw this revolutionary new method of speedily identifying addresses being used throughout the rest of the UK. Often taken for granted, the simple postcode has transformed the way that sorting offices quickly organise mail to speed up the delivery to the end user. There are now 1.8 million postcodes covering 29 million addresses across the country.

Indeed the humble postcode has become an automatic way in which we identify ourselves and get around. With two thirds of the country finding it easier to navigate with a sat nav, the old fashioned map is becoming a thing of the past. Just key in the postcode and off you go! Hard to believe that 40 years ago this wonderful system did not exist.

Indeed one of the many sectors highly affected by the creation of the postcode is estate agency.

James Wyatt, partner of leading Surrey Estate Agent, Barton Wyatt comments:

James & Rupert Wyatt “I was only a lad when the postcode was introduced but I was still actively involved in the family business. My brother Rupert and I were often tasked with delivering leaflets door to door extolling the virtues of selling your house through Barton Wyatt so I felt like a postman sometimes! It might sound jolly but door-to-door delivery is not fun in Virginia Water and the Wentworth Estate. The plots are big and the drives seem endless when you are just 11 years old.”

Another sector that has relied on the postcode is demographic classification. Used in the UK to describe, measure and classify people of different social grade, income and earnings levels this data is essential for market research, social commentary, statistical research and analysis.

“Wentworth, Virginia Water and surrounding villages are all A1 classified,” mulls James, “We are very fortunate to live in such an affluent area. And it was like this 40 years ago when the postcode was invented – as it will be in another 40. But things have not stood still – a lot changes in housing in 40 years!”

Forty years ago a new house sitting on half an acre in Wentworth would have had an internal size of 2,000 square feet and the house would have gone on the market at about £55,000. This would have been a large house by UK standards then. Today a new house on Wentworth will be around 7,000 square feet and will cost a buyer £4,000,000.

And if you are wondering about flats – the sizes have not altered greatly but the cost has. In 1974 you would expect to pay £10,000 for a 2 bedroom flat – today you could pay between £250,000 and £400,000.

The ‘must have’ gadget in the kitchen if you were flashy in 1974 was a dishwasher; incredibly this white good is the same price today as it was then. A cheaper toy, but all the rage in the middle classes, was a Sodastream, with its violent coloured concentrates and endless flow of sparkling beverages. The “Get busy with the fizzy” tagline has been re-launched recently as Sodastream attempts a return to its original fame.

Back in the 70’s houses were all being refitted with shag pile carpets and chocolate bathroom suites sporting gold taps. In the garden, you were considered dead trendy if you had a ride on mower and slightly vulgar if you had a swimming pool. Today it’s cool to have a gardener and a bit retro to have a hot-tub.

On the driveway you had made it if you had a Reliant Scimitar in Mexico brown with a vinyl roof and if you were really flashy, a webasto sunroof. The ladies would have liked to be seen in a Dolomite Sprint, a bit of a GTI in its day, the most popular colour in 1974 being deep purple. Today it’s a 4×4 all the way with the odd drop head Mercedes for sunny days and a VW Golf for the nanny.

James mulls over some differences in the workplace too,

“Selling houses was considerably less electronic. Your estate agent would measure up your house with a tape measure, he or she would count the power points, take note of the dado rail and get excited by the number of aspects. A photo and typed up details would be carefully placed in the agent’s window and an advert would appear in the local paper… and then we would wait for the perfect buyer.

“Like most businesses, all estate agents would close for lunch, and very few would open on a Saturday – and if they did then certainly not for long. It was fun working in an estate agency then and still today. Much has progressed but actually people still buy from people and that will never change. Our clients return time and time again, they pop in for a chin wag and they are the life blood of our business. I was addicted then and I still am!”

For more details on luxurious property on Wentworth give the team a call on 01344 84300 or visit www.bartonwyatt.co.uk.