The Needles Old Battery was built between 1861 and 64 to defend the Western Solent and Channel. The addition of the New battery higher up the cliff for larger gun emplacements was constructed in 1900, and both sites were used during WWI and WWII.
The National Trust purchased the Needles Headland in 1975 and The Old Battery was opened to the public in 1982.
The site on St. Boniface down was chosen in 1937 and was part of the Chain Home radar system. It was bombed twice in 1940 and played an important role in D-Day, monitoring ships and aircraft in the Channel.
It remained a RAF radar station until decommission in 1961, when it was used by the CAA. Some underground facilities were refurbished and remained operational as the IW emergency command centre during a nuclear attack, but these were eventually demolished in 1991. The main control room is still in use for air traffic control and telecoms.
In 1971 the British satellite 'Prospero' was launched from Woomera in Australia as the Program ceased. The site closed in 1974, re-opening to the public in 2004, now owned by the National Trust.
Despite its small size, the Isle of Wight has played an important part in British History. From Tudor castles to Napoleonic Forts, early radar stations and Cold War rocket testing. Many of these sites now form parks and have become backdrops to dog walkers and runners daily routines, far removed from their original purpose.
These photographs explore how these heritage sites have been transformed into areas of peace and tranquility and how they are becoming almost forgotten among contemporary life – except for the ubiquitous information board. These sites may not be as impressive as castles and stately homes that are being preserved, but that doesn’t mean they are anyway less important.
This is an ongoing project which started as part of my MA looking at shifting cultural narratives and memory.