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Mystery surrounds origin of keyboard embedded in city street

PUBLISHED: 13:16 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:36 19 May 2020

The Norwich keyboard, in the pavement on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill. Picture: Daniel Moxon

The Norwich keyboard, in the pavement on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill. Picture: Daniel Moxon

Archant

Norwich has long been a place to see beautiful and bizarre sights with a storied history, but no-one seems to know for sure the origin of one of the city’s more quirky features.

The keyboard can be found on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill in Norwich. Picture: ArchantThe keyboard can be found on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill in Norwich. Picture: Archant

For many years, those ambling through the area where Elm Hill meets Princes Street may have noticed an imprint in the ground resembling a computer keyboard.

And while it has cracked and faded slightly, having been worn through years of exposure to the elements, walkers can still see the keyboard today.

But where exactly did it come from? Is it proof that early settlers in the city used computers?

We somehow doubt it...But its true provenance is shrouded in mystery despite having been noticed regularly by intrigued passers-by for more than a decade.

The Norwich keyboard, in the pavement on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill. Picture: Daniel MoxonThe Norwich keyboard, in the pavement on the corner of Princes Street and Elm Hill. Picture: Daniel Moxon

Joe Reney, from Norwich, took to social media to see if anyone knew the answer, armed with his own theory that it may have fallen off a lorry in the 1950s or ‘60s while workers were resurfacing the pavement.

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But this idea was quickly debunked as computer keyboards like this hadn’t yet been invented at that point.

Instead, the prevailing theory among commenters is that it was an art installation by students from the nearby Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), possibly put in place in the 1990s or early 2000s.

NUA has been approached for comment.

Some claimed they had seen the keyboard before, while others said they would make a point of looking for it the next time they were in the area.

Paul Anderson said: “I lived in Norwich for years and never knew about it. I came back for a visit a few years ago, saw it and also took a photo. I’d love to know the story.”

Matilda Stannard-Moore said she would “have to check it out”, while Joy Dowe added it to her “list of things to do when lockdown is over”.

The Norwich Society, which acts as a custodian for the city’s character and heritage, said it was looking into the keyboard’s history, but holds “nothing digital on this subject” and are currently unable to access their office at The Assembly House to look through physical archives due to coronavirus restrictions.

Do you know how the keyboard came to be embedded in the pavement on Princes Street? Get in touch.


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