SOUTH Cumbria boasts two of the most desirable places to live in England, according to the Royal Mail.

Royal Mail has commissioned a study of postcodes to find the most desirable places to live and work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on a range of factors including good schools, access to green spaces and average commuting times.

The study, by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, calculated the most desirable areas based on a range of factors including good schools, access to green spaces, good employment prospects, affordable housing and average commuting times.

Barrow mayor Councillor Anita Husband heard about the study and was not surprised in the least by the result.

She said: "I can well believe that Barrow is one of the most desirable places to live because it's true.

"Barrow is a wonderful place with a lovely atmosphere. I think a lot of people don't realise how lucky we are to live where we do.

"And there's a lot of history in the town - it's a lovely place to live."

Cllr Husband compared the small town feel of Barrow surrounded by lakes and beautiful coastline to the "concrete jungles" of cities and believes Barrovians are truly lucky and need to start appreciating what's on offer.

Dalton town councillor Ann Thurlow agreed with Cllr Husband and said: "I wasn't born here, I chose to live here, and that's because it seemed to have everything that is important to people, such as a bus route and a train line - we don't have the bank anymore, but it is still a brilliant, old-fashioned market town and a great place to live."

Northern locations dominate the English top ten with the Wirral postcode district of CH63 topping the list. Located close to the River Mersey, Bebington residents enjoy the ideal balance of being able to live close to their place of employment, good schools and high employment.

The Top 10 most desirable postcode districts in England were:

1. CH63 – Bebington, Wirral

2. IP5 – Kesgrave, Ipswich

3. LA15 – Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria

4. NR8 – Taverham, Norfolk

5. FY6 – Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancashire

6. DT1 – Dorchester, West Dorset

7. WA1 – Warrington, Cheshire

8. CH62 – Eastham, Wirral

9. CH45 – Wallasey, Merseyside

10. LA13 – Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

Dalton mayor Councillor Nick Perie was thrilled that Dalton was put in third place and believes it is easy to see why the town is so popular.

He said: "Dalton is surrounded by green fields, has excellent schools, the residents are friendly and there is a real community feel, there are low crime figures in the town, good quality housing, a fantastic Community association and fantastic churches.

"I am not originally from Dalton but I've been resident in Dalton for over 15 years, it is home to my five kids who have grown up here, they are Daltonians and Dowdalians and as they say home is where the heart is and my heart is firmly in Dalton."

He continued: "Anyone who know Daltonians, know that they are proud of their town and I would encourage them to sing the praises of the town more often."

The history of the postcode

January 1837 saw Rowland Hill submit his paper entitled, Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability which led to the reform of the postal service and the introduction of the first postage stamp, the Penny Black.

In 1959, the first postcodes were trialled in Norwich. Royal Mail started a major mechanism programme designed to use machines to overcome the problems of labour intensive letter sorting. This depended on reducing the address to a machine-readable code.

In 1966, the eight-year programme to postcode the whole country began. This was completed in 1974 with the recoding of Norwich.

The postcode today

There are around 1.8 million postcodes in use today across the UK.

The use of the postcode has evolved over the years and has now become much more than a tool for driving Royal Mail delivery.

The Postcode Address File (PAF), managed by Royal Mail’s Address Management Unit, contains details of all 29 million UK delivery points.

It is used by tens of thousands of organisations and businesses every day to update databases, confirm identities, prevent fraud and support new satellite navigation and location solutions.

Five facts about the postcode

• There are around 1.8 million postcodes across the UK, covering over 29 million addresses. In total, there are 48 million postcodes available under Royal Mail’s alpha-numeric system

• The combination of letters and numbers was chosen because people can remember a mixture of numbers and letters more easily than a list of numbers and it gives more code combinations

• Optical recognition machines read the postcodes and automatically convert them to phosphor dots. These are in turn read by the sorting machines which handle correctly addressed, post-coded letters 20 times faster than manual sorting

• On average one postcode covers 17 residential addresses

• Royal Mail’s online Postcode Finder is one of the UK’s most used webpages with around 100,000 visits a day – more than 40 million a year.