Windsor wants its own postcode – not Slough's
Friday 25 January 2008
Little did we know that the gentle folk of Windsor and Maidenhead could get so upset about two innocuous letters.
SL4 and SL6 are not variants of a new life-threatening virus but to some residents in these parts they are a scourge on their good name (the Queen does live in Windsor, after all); an affront to their supposedly gentrified dignity and a blot on their middle-class landscape. SL is the post code for Slough and some of Windsor (SL4) and Maidenhead (SL6). And residents want to see it removed altogether and replaced with, well, anything but SL.
So a small group of homeowners within what is officially known as the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have begun agitating for the creation of a WM postcode to cover their area and have enlisted that most modern campaigning technique, the Facebook group, to aid them. But opponents of the idea, mostly from oft-maligned Slough, say the move is an unpleasant snobbery that has often blighted relations between the predominantly white middle-class towns of Windsor and Maidenhead and the poorer multi-ethnic mix that makes up Slough.
Those wanting to see their postcode changed say an SL postcode brings the house prices down, others say it makes car insurance more expensive. Some simply don't like having a Slough-based namesake.
The Facebook group "Lose SL – give Windsor and Maidenhead a WM postcode!" was set up by local resident Anu Caudell. She told the Slough and Windsor Observer this week that she was forced to defend her campaign against charges of snobbery, but made no attempt to mask her dislike of Slough.
"There are connotations that arise from an association with Slough, because Slough's not perceived as being a desirable place to live," she said. "The crime rates are higher, the media has portrayed it as an undesirable place to live through programmes like The Office, and people also don't like that stigma attached to their postcode. But although that's a factor in wanting the change I don't think it's the only one."
Against Ms Caudell is "The SL Postcode Support Group" with 736 members, set up two years ago to restore pride in the SL postcode. Andy Roseman, a student at Loughborough who hails from Slough, is typical of SL supporters. "Although I would never say I'm proud to be from near Slough, it's not that bad," he says. "Yes, it may have been voted the least tranquil place in the UK, and yes, the word Slough itself means a bog, and yes, John Betjeman wrote a less than complimentary poem about it, but there's far worse places in the UK. There's no reason to be ashamed. And to all of you saying that the 'Royal' Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor should have its own postcode, don't be so pretentious!"
But others believe that beyond the tongue-in-cheek Facebook groups lies the stench of white, middle-class snobbery and racism. One Slough resident, Jag-deesh Singh, who worked for the council as a racial harassment officer, said: "For years there's been this strong undercurrent that the posh white people of Windsor and Maidenhead want to keep themselves separate from what they perceive to be the multi-ethnic mess that is Slough.
"It's palpable snobbery, a 'We don't want to be a part of you' mentality. But for all its bad reputation, Slough's not a bad place to live; it provides thousands of families with a homely and safe multi-cultural mix. I wish a few more people would recognise that."
Location, location, location
Postal snobbery is not a new phenomenon. An Ipsos MORI poll in 2006 found that 56 per cent of us would lie about our address and change it to somewhere more upmarket. Here's how to catch them out.
* People in Peckham's SE15 often find East Dulwich's SE22 a far more palatable way of saying where they come from.
* SE13ers (otherwise known as Lewishamers) often stretch their postcodes to SE10 or SE3 (Blackheath and Greenwich).
* Crouch End addresses often mysteriously morph into the much more gentrified sounding Highgate Borders.
* House-sellers in Waltham Abbey, Essex, often change the address to "Hertfordshire Borders" for a quicker sale.
* Despite being merged into traditionally working-class Merseyside, people from Southport often still use Southport, Lancashire, as their address.
* Middle-class districts of Birmingham, such as Kings Heath, Moseley and Edgbaston often seem to go way beyond their borders.
* And, of course, Middlesex, a county that ceased to exist 44 years ago, which is still used by those who don't like the sound of Greater London.
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