The Internet Bench
The Internet Bench

Internet Bench diagram
How the bench is made up.
Click for full image.

The Bench in use
The Bench in use

The Abbey Gate
Internet Bench & Abbey Gate

View from bench
A view from the bench

The Abbey Gardens
The Abbey Gardens

Bury St Edmunds:
Home of the Internet Bench!

Bury St Edmunds: Shrine of a King, Cradle of the Law -
and Now Home of the World's First Internet Bench

Click here to view the worlds first email sent from an internet bench

Click here to view Mayor's new year message sent from the bench

Click here to see our launch day picture page

The country's most popular website has chosen the world's favourite small town to launch a new project into cyberspace. The world's first 'Internet Bench' is in the birthplace of the Magna Carta - the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds.

The internet bench is a pilot to encourage people to use the web outdoors in keeping with MSN's vision of helping people connect to the web any time, and from any place.

Working in partnership with the Council, MSN has converted a standard park bench to create the unique Internet Bench, which allows up to four people to log on to the web with their laptops at the same time. chose St Edmundsbury for the pilot 'cyber seat' from applications from local authorities around the UK. The Borough Council's entry impressed MSN with its enthusiasm and vision for the towns future. Like MSN we want people to have the same kind of everyday access to the Internet as they do to the park.

The Internet bench is easy-to-use. Users simply plug their laptop into the modem sockets concealed in the inside arms of the bench, power up and start emailing, shopping online or searching for information.

The Abbey Gardens are owned by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and maintain the spirit of a 19th century botanic garden. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Borough, with a rose garden, garden for the blind, wall shrub garden, riverside planting, children's play area, tennis courts, bowling green, some trees dating back to the 1830s - and the spectacular planting of the central Great Court.

The Abbey Gate, built in 1347 to keep out troublesome visitors, links the Gardens to Angel Hill, a square which was created in the late Norman period and is fronted by an ancient monument, five Grade I listed buildings and 35 other listed buildings.


Internet Bench FAQ's

Why was Bury St Edmunds chosen?
MSN were impressed by St Edmundsburys enthusiasm and vision for the towns future. The Internet bench is situated in the award-winning Abbey Gardens, home to the historic ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund and where it was agreed to sign the Magna Carta in the 13th century. The town is also in the Cambridge commuter belt and is home to many Silicon Fen technology workers.

How many people are expected to use the internet bench?
It is expected to be a big hit with the thousands of tourists who flock to Bury St Edmunds each year and residents will also benefit from the project.

How will the town's residents and visitors benefit from the project - what will they do with the bench?
It's another way to get online outdoors. They can access the Internet to communicate with friends, family or work colleagues, search, shop or simply surf the Web.

Isn't Bury St Edmunds populated by older residents? Are they really the type of people who'll use the bench?
The population of Bury St Edmunds is made up of people of all ages. The Web is about as everyday as the park. There's a real cross-section of the country using it, from the younger generation to 'silver surfers'. It's something that people can use on a daily basis and Bury St Edmunds is the ideal spot for this.

How will the bench be protected from vandalism and weather damage?
The Abbey Gardens is patrolled by park keepers and is locked at night. The bench has special weather-proof flaps to protect the internet connection sockets.

Return to Chronicle 2001 Return to Picture Story Homepage Updated 3rd January 2002 Go to Home Page