The scariest view of the Needles rocks from a lookout point right at the tip of the cliffs is your reward for climbing down the spiral staircase and then creeping through a 65m underground tunnel at the Needles Old Battery. Or you can stay at the top and have 360 degree views.
Owned by the National Trust, the Needles Old Battery was built by Palmerston in 1862 following the threat of a French invasion. Two original gun barrels are displayed in the parade ground and a tunnel accessed by a spiral staircase leads to a searchlight emplacement perched above the Needles Rocks.
From the Parade Ground you get a really fabulous view of Alum Bay and the mainland beyond, along with yachts and boats sailing by. On Round the Island Race day (July 1st 2017) the café here opens at 6am for a hearty breakfast watching 1,500 or more yachts turning around the Needles lighthouse.
The Battery was part of a chain of defences to protect the naval dockyards of Portsmouth, especially from invasion by Napoleon III. As this did not occur, the Needles Old Battery became known as one of 'Palmerston's Follies'.
Last used in action in WWII, the Old Battery is a red brick fortification built into the chalk cliff, surrounded on the landward side by a dry ditch to prevent invaders climbing up from the beach.
In 1945 both Old and New Batteries were closed and then decommissioned and the Needles Headland and both Batteries were bought by the National Trust in 1975. The Old Battery was restored and then officially opened to visitors in 1982 by HRH Prince Charles.
For kids there are family discovery packs free to borrow from the guardroom. What was life like for soldiers based at the Battery? And how many ships you can spot? See if you can find Major Mindup and his gunners who are hidden around the Battery. Or try the new Inspector trail and help Sir Cliff Edges complete his report by answering his questions as you go round the site.
- open daily from 10 March to 28 October
- generally opens at 10:30 - please check the calendar on the left for specific days and times
- 30 minutes before closing time.
- no on-site parking. Car park at Alum Bay (minimum £4.50 charge) or a council car park in Freshwater Bay
- Limited disabled parking at the Needles Old Battery - please contact the property for prior arrangement
- adapted toilets at Needles Old Battery (not at the New Battery)
- sensory experience
- assistance dogs welcome
- children aged 4 and under are free of charge
- baby changing and feeding facilities
- serving freshly cooked food in the cliff-top 1940's tea-room
- souvenirs from the guardroom shop
We hope you enjoy your visit and don't forget to tweet a pic
( @RedFunnel @nationaltrust)
The Needles Old Battery Address: West High Down, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, PO39 0JH