Rocket Testing Site @ The Needles - Isle of Wight - PIC HEAVY

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Urban Mole

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Well her we go.
As most of you are aware, the Island hold a hell of alot of history, as you can see from my explores, but this probably holds the most in terms of achievement and credit to the UK & the Island.
During the cold war, the race to be in space was running, mostly between Russia and the USA, but there was the UK too, and alot of it was being developed here on the little old Isle of Wight.
The High Down Test Site is a rare example of a 1950s British rocket test facility, built at a time when the country was amongst a handful of nations at the forefront of rocket and missile technology. Internationally, large rocket testing facilities of this date are uncommon, and were restricted to the two Superpowers - the United States and the Soviet Union. It is also a visible reminder of the Isle of Wight’s aviation heritage, in such specialized fields as flying boats, rocket powered interceptor fighter and hovercraft, and in particular its contribution to space technology.
Most of the site’s ancillary buildings have been demolished and the metal work of the test stands removed, nevertheless, its plan form and remaining features may be used to understand the operation of a post-war rocket test facility. The site and surrounding down land is owned by the National Trust and is publicly accessible.

Unfortunately like most stuff over here, it was demolished shortly after decommissioning :(

If you want a breakdown with explanations for most of the stuff thats still there, then I recommend this survey, done by English Heritage, its a PDF file, and very informative, covering the batteries & rocket site;
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/High_Down_Report_90-2007.pdf

More info here ---> http://www.theneedlesbattery.org.uk/rocket.shtml
And here ---> http://www.spaceuk.org/bk/bk.htm
Again ---> http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/...naveral+(...+on+the+Isle+of+Wight)/article.do

Anyway on with the pics;

rocket69.jpg

Heres an Ariel view of the site.

rocket59.jpg

And another from when it was in use.

rocket60.jpg

And heres a plan of the site, when in use.

rocket61.jpg
rocket62.jpg

Heres a magazine article about it.

rocket65.jpg
rocket66.jpg

And another.

rocket67.jpg

rocket68.jpg

And an article from the Mail.

rocket25.jpg

Here is another plan, this was the final drawing of it before the building work started.

rocket26.jpg

And again.

rocket30.jpg

More.

rocket21.jpg

Some 'not so' classified documents.

rocket64.jpg

Work starting on the complex in the 50s (library picture).

rocket01.jpg

This is the view of Gantry #2 through the viewing windows in the control room.
This would normally be 4" (2x 2") thick glass, but its been destroyed over the years of dereliction.

rocket02.jpg

This is the view of Gantry #1 through the viewing windows in the control room.
Again this would normally be 4" (2x 2") thick glass, but its been destroyed over the years of dereliction.

rocket03.jpg

Inside the control room, looking at the entrance & blast door.

rocket43.jpg

The blast door, separating the control room and pump room.

rocket40.jpg

Inside the pump room.

rocket38.jpg

Looking into the base of gantry #2 showing the fixings and exhaust chute.

rocket39.jpg

And again.

rocket44.jpg

Same again, but gantry #1.

rocket45.jpg

Zoomed in.

rocket55.jpg

A truck arriving with a rocket to be tested (library picture).

rocket32.jpg

My attempted replica picture.

rocket58.jpg

Looking towards gantry #2 (library picture).

rocket31.jpg

And my attempt again.

rocket54.jpg

Drawn picture of above 2 pictures (library picture).

rocket53.jpg

Looking towards gantry #1 (library picture).

rocket35.jpg

Nearly the same.

rocket57.jpg

Looking at the control room and gantry #1 (library picture).

rocket33.jpg

And my attempt again.

rocket56.jpg

Looking at the whole site (library picture).

rocket36.jpg

Not a bad attempt.

rocket63.jpg

Rocket being loaded into gantry #2 (library picture).

rocket37.jpg

And my final attempt at replicating the old pics.

rocket17.jpg

This is inside the museum, its the rocket that carried Prospero into space.

rocket10.jpg

And here is the satellite Prospero, thats still orbiting the earth, 30yrs on.

rocket11.jpg

And the details about it.

rocket04.jpg

And to finish, a nice shot of the needles.

Thanks for viewing.
Comment and suggestions welcome :)
 
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Locksley

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wow, fantastic report, great pics, very interesting. Thanks. (heh that sounded like some ebay feedback:lol:)
 

CHEWY

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Great work on the before and after shots.

any righter, and they'd be wrong :lol::lol:
 

KingElvis

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I love that report, well done for all the hard work you put into it :)

Great stuff.

KE
 

smiffy

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Thats a brilliant report mate ....I really love "then and now" stuff........thanks for that!:)
 

sqwasher

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Fantastic report & history! :mrgreen: Specially like the then & now shots-that must of taken some research & setting up! Great pics too! Thanks for posting them. :cool:
 

Urban Mole

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Cheers guys, it took some doing, trying to get the same pics, especially when it was blowing a hooley down there, and trying to keep the camera straight, as I didnt take a tripod :neutral:

It really is a shame alot of it has gone now, and there isnt much in the museum either, although I do have pics of all the info signs inside, you can see them in the pic of the rocket on display.

Sometimes the 'Rocket Men' are there for people to chat to, but not always, and wernt there when I went :(
 

The Pirate

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Cool report..
I`m in isle of white on Friday and Saturday i might just take a look.
 

Urban Mole

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Pirate;
You`re spelling is atrocious young man !!!
Wight ;)

Where and when you visiting?


Foxy, I remember you saying you wanted to see it, so thought Id best get it up.

Could have reported ages ago, but I wanted to collect as much info as poss.... :p
 

The Pirate

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i`m there this weekend 22n`d and 23rd August to pick my kids up from camp baumont there...

Know any good and cheapish B+B`s in Ryde or somewhere around there ? I fancy looking at that old paddle streamer while i`m there.
 

crickleymal

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Nice, I like the attempted reconstruction pictures. I used to work with some of the people who worked on those rockets. Back in the late 80s I worked on the Isle of Wight at Westland Aerospace. IIRC I think Ray Wheeler was still there then.
 

Urban Mole

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I used to work with some of the people who worked on those rockets. Back in the late 80s I worked on the Isle of Wight at Westland Aerospace. IIRC I think Ray Wheeler was still there then.

You didnt get any inside info then?

I believe there is alot more to this place that whats been let on.
There is still info that they havnt released yet, and thats proberbly going to be the interesting stuff.
 

MD

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i remember reading something about a bunker on the IOW.
ill find the link later and pm you.
 

T-bar

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if your talking about the R1 we have been there done that :)
 

coopsleeds

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Great pics and research mate remeber seeing this place on Coast on BBC 2
 

smileysal

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Excellent work mate, both on the history of the site, the old picture, and your pictures almost at the same places the old ones were taken from. I've only ever seen this place when searching google earth and the like for places to go and have a look at. Seeing your report has made me want to get down to the Isle of Wight now. Will have to get working on Mendo and get us all down there for a holiday ;) :lol:

Cheers mate, excellent work.

:) Sal
 

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