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The Needles

From Academic Kids

The Needles from the cliffs inshore
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The Needles from the cliffs inshore

The Needles is a row of distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, England, close to Alum Bay. A lighthouse has stood at the western end of the formation since 1859. The formation takes its name from a needle-shaped pillar called Lot's Wife that used to stand in its midst until it collapsed in a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are all short and squat and not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck.

The Needles Old battery was built on the cliff top above the stacks in 1861-63 to guard the West end of the Solent. It was initially equipped with 7" Armstrong RBLs, which were replaced by 9" RMLs in 1873. Early searchlight experiments were conducted in 1889-92, just after which the new battery was built higher up the cliff. In 1903 the old guns were considered obsolete and thrown off the cliff. During World War I early trials of anti-aircraft guns were carried out, and the site saw action in World War II. The new Needles guns were scrapped in 1954. The headland was used for Black Knight rocket tests from 1956-71, and the site is now open to the public, owned by the National Trust.

It was featured on the 2005 TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the South.

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