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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Needles Rocket Testing Site, Isle of Wight
In the 1950s, on High Down just above the Isle of Wight's Needles, a rocket testing site was constructed. It was located just below New Needles Battery, and much of the battery was utilised as workshops and storage for the project. The natural sloping curvature of the landscape made this an ideal location, and a long concrete platform was created with gantries at either end and a control room in the middle. The Black Knight rocket was first tested here in the late 1950s, before launch in Australia and in the late 1960s the Black Arrow was also tested here. In 1971 the site was again used for testing of the Prospero X-3 satellite. Although High Down played an important role in Britain's Space Programme, it was neglected after the 1970s, and most of the buildings demolished. It is now under the care of the National Trust, who have a display of the site's use in the magazines of New Needles Battery.
This site is on open land, managed by the National Trust.
The platform, with the two gantries and control room visible