Page 6 - Bristol Defences
P. 6

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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