diamond geezer

 Friday, July 15, 2022

I apologise for posting a photo of a shopfront with an 0181 phone number earlier in the week. I could of done better.

This is better. Its an 0181 phone number coupled with an obsolete county.

This is B&K Salt Beef Bar on Whitchurch Lane in Edgware. It looks like a new sign, all shiny and white, but it can't be new because 0181 numbers were last used in April 2000. It trumps my previous Muswell Hill photo because the address is given as Edgware Middx, and Middlesex hasn't existed since 1965 despite the anguished cries of many administrative throwbacks. It therefore cannot be possible that the telephone number and metropolitan county were both correct simultaneously.

I said this in the comments on Tuesday but Tony pointed out that the postal county of Middlesex was only dropped from addresses in 1996. This is when Royal Mail introduced optical character recognition equipment and switched to sorting letters using the first half of the postcode instead, thereby making postal counties redundant. Technically it took until 2000 before postal county data was removed from the Postcode Address File database, but this does not change the fact that adding 'Middx' was already entirely futile.

The postal county of Middlesex was a peculiar beast because it existed in two distinct geographical chunks. The main chunk comprised of the HA and UX postcode districts, that's Harrow and Uxbridge, along with most of Twickenham (TW). The other chunk was the entirely seperate Enfield postal town, namely postcode areas EN1, EN2 and EN3. The remainder of former Middlesex was instead part of the London postal district so didn't use Middx as the postal county, it was all N, NW and W instead.

There is of course only one place outside Greater London which has a London postcode, and that's Sewardstone in Essex which is part of the E4 postcode zone. Sewardstone also has 020 phone numbers despite not being in London, an anomaly it shares with Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell and Loughton (Essex), Borehamwood, Bushey, Carpenters Park, Elstree and South Oxhey (Herts), and Ewell, Molesey, Thames Ditton and Whyteleafe (Surrey). This means there could be 0181 shopfronts lingering in Sewardstone, but there aren't because I checked when I was there earlier in the week, and anyway Sewardstone hardly has any shops anyway.

But I digress.

I need not have bothered with the 0181 shopfronts because I can beat it with a 081.

This is Shoe Repairs on the High Road in Chadwell Heath. It still displays a telephone number that was last correct in April 1995 which is over 27 years ago. Even the logo alongside the number depicts a dialphone nobody has any more. This is a genuinely old shop, proper cobblers, as you can tell if you boldly go inside with heels to fix or soles to mend. I bet that's Mr Wynter behind the counter, because it's all thanks to him that the 081 number has never been changed, and he does watch batteries and keycutting too.

Incidentally the shop's address of 1211 High Road is pretty extreme too. Only eight streets in Greater London have addresses whose numbers exceeds 1200, of which this is one, the others being Great Cambridge Road in Enfield (1798), London Road in Croydon (1597), Greenford Road in Sudbury Hill (1564), High Road in Whetstone (1541), Uxbridge Road in Hillingdon (1390), Finchley Road in Golders Green (1287) and Eastern Avenue in Redbridge (1228). Shoe Repairs by M Wynter only just squeezes in because this High Road stops five doors down at 1221. That's former Essex for you.

But I digress.

It turns out I need'nt've bothered with the 081 shopfronts because I can beat it with an 01.

A reader called Will pointed out in Tuesday's comments that "J. Ayres Bakery in Eltham has an 01 proudly displayed on the side of its shop, or at least did a year ago. Its a cracking bakery too." He also added a Streetview URL, which was thoughtful, although it was 334 characters long and essentially broke the comments box (so if any of you are thinking of doing similar please use Google's shortened shareable link because that's only 37 characters instead).
LONG: https://www.google.com/maps/@51.4570628,0.0594372,3a,75y,16.91h,85.15t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sQWHeg5XKt146Cb3X1I7Jvg!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3DQWHeg5XKt146Cb3X1I7Jvg%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D101.41423%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i16384!8i8192

SHORT: https://goo.gl/maps/Zxr86yAfwLxME3WG7
I was in the area yesterday and blimey won't you look at that, a proper 01 phone number.

This sign would last have been correct on 5th May 1990, more than thirty years ago, which is telecommunicatively ridiculous. Importantly this isn't the J Ayre bakery in Eltham, this is the J Ayre bakery in Blackfen, and what are the chances of two of their branches still being rooted in dialling code prehistory? I wondered whether this was a deliberate ploy to attract older customers, the kind of cream horn eaters who still believe Bexley is in Kent, but seemingly not. J Ayre have one further branch in Sidcup so I checked that (Streetview: https://goo.gl/maps/52cSed3NyngXsQmN9) and its telephone number is 081 300 1465, so I can only assume they really like their old branding and have been determined to keep it.

The branch in Blackfen used to be BestMate's local bakery, and he remembers queues stretching out of the door on Saturday mornings back in the era when 01 was current. He also remembers going in regularly to buy gypsy tart, a very Kentish treat, and also a staple of many a Seventies school lunch. I always preferred it to coconut sponge, although jam slice sprinkled with hundreds and thousands and swimming in pink custard was better, and the appearance of chocolate pudding was always a red letter day.

But I digress.

I hope you appeciate that todays post has managed to incorporate outdated telephone dialling codes, historic counties, postcode anomalies, street numbering, Google shortcuts and retro school dinners. I've also thrown in some grammatical errors, dropped apostrophes and spelling mistakes for good measure, and probably included a few unintentionally incorrect facts along the way. It's almost as if I've deliberately included certifiable clickbait triggers and am shamelessly begging for feedback.

So today I'm asking you PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE A COMMENT. Just resist for once. Leave the box empty. Keep your thoughts to yourself. See if you can manage it.

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