Defending the nation at the Needles Old Battery

People sitting by a gun at the Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight

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. 
 
The parade ground at the Needles Old Battery
Two guns in the parade ground of the Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight
The parade ground at the Needles Old Battery

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 soon become 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.
 

The fate of the guns

In 1903 the guns were no longer useful and so where pushed over the cliffs into Scratchell's Bay below. Here they stayed until it was decided to rescue them and return them to their rightful place. Between 1983 and 1985 two guns were haulded up from the seas below and installed on the Parade Ground where you can see them today. 

Guns on the parade ground
Guns on the parade ground
Guns on the parade ground