Needles Battery

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Needles Battery: Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site perched high above the Needles Rocks. Built against the threat of French invasion. Spectacular cliff top location with fine views over to Dorset and Hampshire. Fascinating military history. Tunnel through the cliffs leads to a unique panorama of The Needles. Original guns on display. Old Look-out Tower tea-room, for the Isle of Wight's most westerly refreshments

TypeOverall vote
Historic building:4.7/10
Stone castle:6.9/10
Popularity rank: #1676
Isle of Wight, South East England, Wessex, England, Great Britain, UK, Europe
Needles New Battery, Needles Old Battery


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Old Battery

It was initially equipped with six 7" Armstrong Rifled Breech Loaders. These were replaced by four 7" and two 9" Rifled Muzzle Loaders in 1872, and six 9" Rifled Muzzle Loaders in 1893. The 9" guns took a team of 9 men to load and fire. These guns fired projectiles weighing 256 lbs.The 9" guns remained in place until 1903 when they were discarded by throwing them over the side of the cliff. These were later recovered and two are on display presently at the Old Battery.

A deep ditch with a retractable bridge was dug into the chalk to protect the facility from ground attack from the island side. In 1885 a tunnel was dug towards the cliff face from the parade grounds. An elevator down to the beach was completed in 1887. Early searchlight experiments were conducted at the site between 1889 and 1892. The present observation post housing a searchlight was built in 1899

New Battery

Unfortunately, there were subsidence problems and concerns that the concussion from firing the guns was causing the cliffs to crumble. This was solved by building the New Battery higher up the cliff, at a height of 120 meters above sea level. The New Battery was completed in 1895.

Three 9.2" breech-loading guns were installed at the New Battery. A crew of 11 was required to fire one of these guns. Each shell weighed 380 lbs. The New Battery guns remained in place until 1954, when they were scrapped.


Opening times (New Battery, 14 March - 1 November):
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM-----11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Opening times (Old Battery, 14 March - 1 November):
10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM10:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Prices (Old Battery):
AdultChildFamily (2 adults and children 5-17)

Prices (New Battery):



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Address: The Needles Old Battery and New Battery, West High Down, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, PO39 0JH, UK
Phone: +44 1983 754772
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