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Aerial tour of Needles headland, Isle of Wight


The Needles headland is one of the most iconic landscapes in England. The chalk stacks of the Needles Rocks at its western most tip rise almost one hundred feet clear of the crashing waves and tides that sweep around the Isle of Wight into the Solent from Christchurch Bay and the English Channel beyond. The red and white Needles Lighthouse, built in 1859 and unmanned and fully automated since 1994, is a welcome sight for mariners in bad weather, its fog horn sounding twice every thirty seconds in poor visibility.


The Needles Old Battery was built in 1861 to defend the Solent, initially equipped with six 7-inch Armstrong rifled breechloading guns and replaced in 1872 by four 7-inch and two 9-inch rifled muzzle loaders, and six 9-inch rifled muzzle loaders in 1893.


Due to subsidence, the decision was taken to relocate The Needles New Battery further up the cliff in 1895, 120 meters above sea level and equipped with breech loading 9.2-inch guns.


The Battery was manned throughout World War I and World War II before being deactivated in 1950 by the Ministry of Defence.


High Down, now owned by the National Trust, was the rocket testing site used for the Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets in the 1950s and 1960s before being shipped to Woomera in Australia.


(Thanks to Tim at SafeSiteIoW for the amazing drone footage and guided tour).

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© 2020 by Robin Crumby