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Report - - Needles Old Battery, Sea Level Fort - Isle of Wight - July 08 | Military Sites |

Report - Needles Old Battery, Sea Level Fort - Isle of Wight - July 08

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Truffle Pig

28DL Regular
28DL Full Member
Ok me, Dan and Ben decided to go and visit this the other day, as this is the part that isnt open to the public due to access.
Its a sea level fort, part of the needles old battery(not the new battery).
We planned the tide just right, as it was quite a trek to get to it, the tide was on its way out as we walked along the coast, so gave us enough time to visit and get back before it came back in again.

Lots of history in the links here;
The Needles Old Battery and New Battery

Ok heres a bit of history on the sea level fort;
The fort was opened in 1864, and in 1887 a lift shaft had been dug from the ditch to sea level. A tunnel from the shaft led to five emplacements in the north face of the cliff. The likely use was for quick firing guns to combat torpedo boats. During the 1890-92 searchlight experiments, a searchlight was experimentally installed in one emplacement and two 6-pounder QF guns were tried out in the others in 1892. Visibility was too restricted for the guns(which were removed) but a "sentry beam" searchlight was installed in 1899 and used in WW1. In 1891-92 casemated engine and test rooms were built in the east wall of the ditch. A robey engine(whose two boilers survive) was installed underground to power the lift shaft and searchlight via a dynamo. The test room was the firing point for EC mines. The terrible heat underground (150 deg F in an hour) led to the buildin gof a new engine room in the ditch about 1900, with a coal store above. In 1899 the western SM cell, was converted into a searchlight position but the light was too elavated above sea level to be effective. It had been removed by 1914. In 1915 a Campbell oil engine was installed in the lift house to power the lift, replacing the steam engines. A store for 600-gallon tanks of paraffin was built across the ditch.
In 1941 two Lister diesel generators were installed to light the Needles batteries and another was added in 1943 to power a new "sentry beam" in a former sea level QF gun emplacement. A new electric lift gave access from 1944. A natural underground reservior pumped water for both Needles abtteries after 1887.

Well on with the pics I suppose :D


Heres a map of the Old Needles battery, the red being the sea level bit we visited.


A comic picture thats on display in the battery showing the generatos and lift.


What the battery looks like from the sea.


Anyone whos been to Alum Bay will know the amount of steps you have to encounter to get to the beach :(
The Needles in the distance, and sea level fort about center.


Making the trek over the rocks.


Looking back at the coloured sands of Alum Bay.
Chair lift in 4th pic, in the middle of the 4 boats.


Engaging water and slippery rocks.


Another obsticle.


Getting further away from the bay.


The approach to the fort, the search light position.


First up to the entrance, looking down on my comrades :p


After various rock slides, its a bit of a squeeze getting in.


Were in, main gate on the right, not really seen in the pic.


More tunnel system.


One of the QF gun emplacements.


Looking out of the search light position.


And again, with Hurst Castle and Fort Albert in the distance.


Traditional spider shot.


Another QF gun emplacement.


Close up, blocked by a rock slide.


Pumping machine, for the fresh water.


The electric motor that powered it.


Balanced weights, possibly for the lift.


The lift shaft that leads to the surface of the Old Needles Battery.


More tunnels.


The fresh water reservior.


And again, I had to make it ripple as is was so clear, it was invisible.
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Truffle Pig

28DL Regular
28DL Full Member

The entrance and gate, again.


Another QF gun emplacement.


Close up, with more rocks blocking the view.

Thats it inside, now for the trek back again.


Tides out now, showing the wonderful shore line.


Looking back as the sun sets.

Hope you like.
Thanks for looking, comments and suggestions welcome :)


Stay Safe
Staff member
Re 'Horse Sands Fort' It is now owned by Optima (Cambridge) Ltd who are converting it into managed [permanent maintenance & security] Private Holiday Apartments with Helicopter Landing Pad.

You are right, The owner of 'No Mans Land Fort' went into receivership and the still claims he is the rightful owner despite the bank foreclosing on his loan. It is on the market for £4 Million or nearest offer! It has a maintenance & security crew living on the island or so I am told?

'St Helens Fort' is also for sale by a private owner who purchased it from the MoD in 1986 for peanuts!! (some say for as little as £10,000 scrap value?) They are asking for offers in excess of £200,000, which is a competitive figure allowing for the work required to convert the fort into a private dwelling.
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