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.

Tabs

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.

Availability

  • open daily from 11 March to 29 October

Opening times

  • generally opens at 10:30 - please check the calendar on the left for specific days and times

Last admission

  • 30 minutes before closing time.

Parking

  • no on-site parking. Car park at Alum Bay (minimum £4.50 charge) or a council car park in Freshwater Bay

Accessibility

  • 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

  • children aged 4 and under are free of charge
  • baby changing and feeding facilities

Tea Room

  • serving freshly cooked food in the cliff-top 1940's tea-room

Gift shop

  • souvenirs from the guardroom shop

We hope you enjoy your visit and don't forget to tweet a pic

Sunday 26 March | 10:30 to 16:00 | Mothering Sunday at the Needles Old Battery
Treat Mum on Mother's Day to an afternoon tea at the Needles Old Battery, a specially prepared set menu of sandwiches, cakes, scones and tea or coffee. Booking is essential on 01983 754772 and charged at £12 for Adults and £6 for Children (normal admission charges also apply).

Wednesday 12 April | 11:00 to 14:00 | Make a pocket rocket (Needles New Battery)
Design, make and launch your own 'fizzy' rocket at the High Down rocket site. Using simple materials, once made see who can launch theirs the highest. £1 per rocket kit. Meet at the New Battery refreshment kiosk (free admission to New Battery).

Thursday 13 April | 11:00 to 14:00 | Rocket site tours (Needles New Battery)
Look back 60 years of the High Down Rocket Testing site with an introduction to the exhibition, followed by a short walk to the site of the rocket gantries. Find out how the headland has evolved and become an AONB. Meet at the New Battery refreshment kiosk (free admission to New Battery).

Friday 14 April | 10:30 to 16:00 | Cadbury Egg Hunt
Find the clues hidden around the Battery to solve the puzzle and claim your chocolate prize, supported by Cadbury. £1.50 per trail sheet.

Monday 29 May | 11:30 to 15:30 | Wild art at the Battery (Needles New Battery)
Help find a selection of items along the beautiful headland of the High Down to create a nature table to show visitors why conservation is so important in theis special area. Meet at Needles New Battery.

Thursday 1 June | 11:00 to 14:00 | Rocket site tours (Needles New Battery)
Look back 60 years of the High Down Rocket Testing site with an introduction to the exhibition, followed by a short walk to the site of the rocket gantries. Find out how the headland has evolved and become an AONB. Meet at the New Battery refreshment kiosk (free admission to New Battery).

Saturday 1 July | 06:00 to 10:00 | Island Yacht Race 2017
The Needles Battery will be open early so you can enjoy a hearty breakfast in the tea room whilst watching over 1000 yachts round the Needles rocks or just come an enjoy the awesome view. Normal admission pirce applies with additional charges for breakfast.

Thursdays only 27 July - 31 August | 11:00 to 13:00 | Rocket site tours (Needles New Battery)
Look back 60 years of the High Down Rocket Testing site with an introduction to the exhibition, followed by a short walk to the site of the rocket gantries. Find out how the headland has evolved and become an AONB. Meet at the New Battery refreshment kiosk (free admission to New Battery).

Thursdays only 27 July - 31 August | 13:00 to 16:00 | 50 things to do before you're 11¾ at the Needles Old Battery
Join in some summer fun activities to tick off your 50 things list. 7. Have a go at making then flying your kite, 18. Create some wild art, 28. Climb a big hill, 31. Go hunting for bugs and 44 Go bird watching. £2 per kite kit - normal admission charges apply.

Tuesday 24 - Thursday 26 October | 11:00 to 15:00 | Autumn Adventures
Enjoy a swashbuckling adventure as you hear stories of the shipwrecks surrounding the Isle of Wight, and enjoy some pirate games and activities. Normal admission charges apply.


 

The Needles Old Battery Address: West High Down, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, PO39 0JH