Defending the nation at the Needles Old Battery

The guns at the Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight have weathered many storms. At the western tip of the Island, high above the iconic Needles, the guns have sent out a strong message to any invader for many years.

Sir William Armstrong

In 1873 the original guns at the Battery were replaced with six Armstrong 9-inch rifled muzzle-loading guns. Two of these guns are displayed today in their original positions on the Parade Ground. They were designed by Sir William Armstrong, a leading 19th-century industrialist. He originally designed a gun that was loaded at the back, but this was replaced by a superior muzzle (front-loading) weapon. Sir William later built himself a state-of-the-art house, Cragside in Northumberland. 

Guns and Gunners

Soldiers based here were Gunners from the Royal Artillery. It took nine men six minutes to fire a gun just the once - certainly no mean feat. During peacetime the Battery was looked after by a lone Master Gunner who lived here with his family. 

Updating the guns

The Armstrong guns were soon obsolete. More powerful guns were needed but they would be too heavy for the Parade Ground and may even have caused the cliffs to collapse if they fired. So in 1893 the Needles New Battery was built to house the new guns and the Old Battery then became just a look-out post, the ‘eyes’ of the New Battery’s Gunners.