[Talk-GB] UK street addressing

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Mon Dec 21 15:48:14 UTC 2020

On 21/12/2020 15:07, Andy Mabbett wrote:
> On Mon, 21 Dec 2020 at 12:50, Colin Smale <colin.smale at xs4all.nl> wrote:
>> Royal Mail say that a house number must be numeric, and anything else
>> (like Rose Cottage, 7A, 3-7, 11/13 etc) should go in the house name field.
> So in  a row of three adjacent, identical houses, known as 11, 11A,
> and 15, two have numbers and one has a name? That's not logical.

You have to bear in mind here that the point of Royal Mail's addressing 
system is to get post from origin to destination. It isn't intended to 
provide a consistent means of labelling adjacent properties.

The full PAF has 20 different fields. Some of those are always populated 
for every postal address. Others are usually blank, and only 
occasionally populated. And some are either blank or have a value 
depending on circumstances.

One of the reasons there are so many fields is that each field only ever 
contains a single type of data. There are no multi-purpose fields. So 
there are separate fields for name and number. And "number" is defined 
internally as an integer value, precisely in order to make it impossible 
to put anything other than a number into it. Which means, therefore, 
that something like 7A, or 7-11, has to go into the name field as the 
database simply won't allow it to go into the number.

In practice, though, that makes no difference to users as that 
distinction is handled internally by the PAF software. When displayed, 
the name and/or number will be shown on screen (or printed on paper) in 
the same output position on the address, either concatenated (if both 
are present) or either/or (if only one is).

There's absolutely no need to replicate that complexity on a non-PAF 
database, such as OSM. For almost all practical purposes, name/number 
can be a single field.


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