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When You Walk Towards the Needles, You Are Bound To Get To the Point!
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Image by antonychammond (off4awhile)
The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, UK, close to Alum Bay. The Needles Lighthouse stands at the outer, western end of the formation. Built in 1859, it has been automated since 1994.

The formation takes its name from a fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot’s Wife that collapsed in a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck.

The Needles Pleasure Park situated at the top of the cliff is a small amusement park with a selection of shops and rides. The most famous attraction at the pleasure park is the Chairlift, which operates between the park and Alum Bay.

The Needles are inextricably linked with Alum Bay, and are a major tourist draw. Scenic boat trips operating from Alum Bay that offer close-up views of the Needles are very popular. The rocks and lighthouse have become icons of the Isle of Wight, and are featured on many of the souvenirs sold throughout the island.

However, the main tourist attractions of the headland itself are the two gun batteries, the experimental rocket testing station, and the four Coastguard cottages owned by the National Trust and let as holiday homes. The site is on tour bus routes and hiking trails.

Military use

The Needles were a site of a long-standing artillery battery, from the 1860s to 1954, which was eventually decommissioned.

A nearby site on High Down was employed in the testing of rockets for the British ICBM programme. The headland at High Down was used for Black Knight and Black Arrow rocket engine tests from 1956–71. During the peak of activity in the early 1960s some 240 people worked at the complex, while the rockets were built in nearby East Cowes. These rockets were later used to launch the Prospero X-3 satellite. The site is now owned by the National Trust, and is open to the public. Concrete installations remain, but the buildings that were less durable have either been demolished or were torn down by the elements.

In 1982, HRH Prince Charles officially opened the restored Needles Old Battery facility. Underground rocket testing rooms are currently being restored for exhibition. The first phase of restoration was completed in 2004.

For further information please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Needles and www.theneedles.co.uk/

The Isle of Wight /ˈaɪl əv ˈwaɪt/, is a county and the largest and second most populous island of England. It is located in the English Channel, about 4 mi (6 km) off the coast of Hampshire and is separated from mainland Great Britain by the Solent. The island has several resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.

The history of the Isle of Wight includes a brief period of time as an independent kingdom in the 15th century. Until 1995, like Jersey and Guernsey, the island had a Governor.

Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world’s first hovercraft, and the testing and development of Britain’s space rockets. The Isle hosts annual festivals including the Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.

The Isle of Wight was part of the County of Southampton until 1890, when it became an independent administrative county. Until 1974 it continued to share its Lord Lieutenant with Hampshire, when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county which gave it its own Lord Lieutenant and was recognised as a postal county.

The quickest public transport link to the mainland is to and from Southsea (Portsmouth) by hovercraft, while five ferry services shuttle across the Solent.

For more information please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Wight and www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/

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