Search Result
By Category
Show on Map
Moment in time
  • Cook's Castle
    Cook's Castle was "created" around 1774 sat on the top of St. Martin's down,..
On the map

History Castles and Fortifications

Old Needles Battery

REF NR: 16

At a cost of £7,656 the development went ahead after being passed in the Defence Act of 1860, as a counter to the French threat that was then overshadowing the country. Initially, the Battery was armed with a compliment of 7-inch R.B.L. (Rifled Breach Loaders) which were changed in 1872 to that of two 9-inch R.M.L ones. (Rifled Muzzle Loaders)  This was regarded as a rather retrospective step as breach loaders (R.B.L.s) were now the up to date mechanism, but the military preferred the true tried and tested muzzle (R.M.L) ones. A further update was undertaken in 1893 when six 9-inch R.M.L.s were installed. As time went on they were considered as out of date and disposed of by throwing them over the cliff edge! Latterly however, they were recovered and are now mounted on replica gun carts at the Battery.

In order to protect against land invasion, the Battery was protected by a deep gorge and a rolling bridge joining the Battery to the road. There was no need to protect the Battery any further as all other side were steep chalk cliffs which were deemed far too difficult to scale. 

The Battery accommodation was for only one officer, two NCO’s and twenty one men. It has plentiful stores and magazine area as well as its own water storage; it would be fully manned in times of need, during lighter times the garrison at Golden Hill Fort would be the billet apart from a Master Gunner on station.

Between In 1885 and 1887 a tunnel was dug to from the parade ground toward the needles and latterly extend into a lift shat to the base of the cliff. This base area was then complimented by five Q.F (Quick Fire) guns in order to counter any potential threat from motor torpedo boats.  During 1890-92 certain searchlight experiments were undertaken being powered by a steam engine generator housed in a room near the ditch.  In 1913 a Anti Aircraft, 1pounder Pom Pom gun was fitted being the first deployment in the UK, it was said to be tested by a firing at a kite that was being towed by a boat in the sea below.

The Battery was fully manned during the 1st WW 1914-18 conflict, after which was stood down until again being activated during the 2nd WW. Today it is owned and managed by the National Trust and is open to the public, please see website for specific opening times.