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Industrial Military

High Down Rocket Test Site

At a very windy corner of the Isle of Wight, at the well known edge of The Needles, sits this rocket testing facility built to secretly test space rockets.

Our plans rapidly changed after the intention of exploring the old sea level forts and quickly discovering that December is not the right tidal times for this to ever be possible, our attention was diverted to the old rocket testing site.

There’s unfortunately not too much to see at this site now, especially that the tunnels have now been bricked off (original layout map also below), however a quick hop over a small railing under the watchful eye of the coastguard revealed a more “urbex like” feel from the original observation post.

I would have loved to explore the rest of the site, hidden away from sight underground however all routes through have been well and truly sealed.

Although not the rest of the site, there is more to see if visited in peak season.

Some history, again shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia, below along with the photos.

The High Down Rocket Test Site is a former Rocket Testing facility on High Down near The Needles.

The remains of the High Down Test Site are 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… — Wayne Cocroft, From introduction to Report by English Heritage, ISSN 1749-8775

The site was built and operated in secret, from the 1950s. Black Arrow was tested at the site, which was used to launch Prospero which was a wholly British project. Black Knight was also tested there.

The development of rocketry was a part of the Cold War, in particular the development of Black Knight.

The site is now under the ownership of the National Trust, who also own the neighbouring Needles Battery.

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