Page 6 - IOW.dpd
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Victorian Forts                                         Portsmouth                     31

                                          New Needles Battery

               Commenced          1893                                Armament
               Completed          1895
               Cost                  £                               Approved 1898 3 x 9.2-inch B.L.
                                                                     Proposed 1898  2 x 9.2-inch B.L.
               Map Reference      SZ 300848                          Mounted 1900 2 x 9.2-inch B.L. ‘C’  IX on
               Position           Isle of Wight / West /Needles      barbette III
                                  passage                            Mounted 1903 3 x 9.2-inch B.L. IX
               Type               Coast Defence Battery              1904-1907 2 x 3pr. QF for practice
               Ditch              None                               1915 3 x 9.2-inch B.L. IX 1 x 6pr. QF
                                                                     1928 2 x 9.2-inch B.L.
               Guns               3                                  1942 2 x 40mm bofors (one soon removed)
               Barrack Accom. 23                                     1954 guns scrapped
               Present use        National Trust (Coast guard use
                                  one pit)
               History            Saunders Roe Rocket Test site
               Disposal           Moth-balled 1945.  N.Trust 1975
               Condition          Pits, magazines and BC post remain
               Access             Open access - magazines sealed

               Sources            Solent Papers No 2

               History and Description

                The New Needles battery was proposed as a replacement for the Old battery, which is close by, to take three of the new
                9.2-inch BL guns en-barbette which would give greater range and accuracy. This new battery was constructed on higher
                ground overlooking the old battery 390ft. above sea level facing north-west. Administrative buildings were sited behind
                the battery and underground magazines were fitted between the gun emplacements. Two 9.2-inch BL Mark IX were fitted
                in 1900 and the third was considered unnecessary. It was in place by 1904.  Two 3pr. QF guns were fitted between the
                centre and northern emplacements for practice use but were removed in 1907. In 1900-02 a battery Command post was
                was built on the down above the battery. A cookhouse and shelter for 23 men were built behind the southern
                emplacement. A Port War Signal Station was built east of the battery, together with coastguard cottages. In 1911-14 the
                gun emplacements were adapted for Mark VB mountings and the new guns were in place in 1914 although one was
                dismounted leaving two in use.  A 6pr. QF was fitted south of the left emplacement for ‘examination service’.

                The battery was placed in care and maintenance in 1918 and was reactivated in 1926 for Territorial use. The battery was
                used again in 1939 for counter bombardment against blockships attempting to close the Needles passage. In 1941 a Radar
                was installed. In 1942 two 40mm bofors were added but one was soon removed. In 1945 the battery was moth-balled
                again and was put up for disposal in 1952. The guns were scrapped in 1954 and from 1956 to 1971 the site was used by
                Saunders Roe for testing Black Knight and Black Arrow space rockets with two test gantries constructed on the cliffs to
                the south of the battery.  The National Trust bought the site in 1975 and demolished most of the buildings. The gun
                emplacements and associated magazines remain. The right emplacement now has a coast guard station built into it. In
                Summer 2005 the magazines were opening for visitors with displays on the history of the  Black Night missile site.

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