Visiting the Needles Old Battery and New Battery
Discover the Old Battery built in 1862 as a defensive fort that was called into action during both World Wars. When the New Battery was built it became a top secret base for testing rocket missiles. Explore underground tunnels, guns, strategic look-outs and find out about the people who worked here.
Discover the site
The story of this special place is brought to life in a series of atmospheric rooms that show what it was like to work here. Find out more about the role of the Victorian gunners and Second World War officers.
The Old Battery had an important part to play in defending the country from invasion due to its vantage point over the entry to the Solent. Stories from both World Wars and the soldiers that were based here are displayed through hands-on objects and illustrated panels.
Follow the underground tunnel as it twists and turns deep into the chalky cliffs and you’ll find the searchlight emplacement. You'll get a real feel for what life was like here.
It’s also one of the best locations to get a great vantage point of the Needles rocks. Look out for views high above the Needles rocks and as far as Dorset on a clear day.
On the Parade Ground stand two original guns. These two tonne guns were hauled up from the sea below where they were thrown years ago. They make a great place for a photo opportunity with views of the bay beyond.
Secret rocket testing
Walk further up the headland to the New Battery. The New Battery was built when the Old Battery deteriorated and more space was required. Two underground rooms tell the fascinating story of British-made space rockets which were secretly tested here between the 1950s – 1970s.
Venture down to the underground rooms of the New Battery to see scale models of the Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets and the satellite Prospero.
These rooms were the nerve centre of a highly secret operation to test rockets prior to their launch into space. Some of the rooms have been recreated as they would have looked when the top-secret tests were being carried out.
The vintage tea-room at The Needles Old Battery is a special place for a tasty lunch or a cup of tea. Step inside and enjoy the view of the Needles and the iconic lighthouse.
Discover the history of this important military site, including how it defended the nation from 1869 and its use as a site for secret rocket testing in the 1950s.
Find out more about the iconic Needles rocks and lighthouse. The Needles lighthouse stands on a remote spot on the Isle of Wight and has saved many lives. Discover how the rocks were formed and how they got their name.