Forgotten History

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WW2 Pillbox at the Causeway, Freshwater, one of many placed around the Island in case of invasion.
Moat at the Needles Old Battery.
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.
Puckpool Mortar Battery was commissioned in 1863, as a response to the 1859 Royal Commission report. It was to guard the deepwater channel between the Island and Portsmouth. It remained in use into the 20th Century and was modified for larger gun emplacements in WWI and WWII. It was finally decommissioned in the 1950's and transformed into a park.
Lookout, Ventnor Radar Station.
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.
Sandown Barracks and Battery, built in 1862 as part of 70 other forts built as a result of the 1859 Royal Commission report to a response to the strengthening of the French Navy.
The Needles Rocket Test Site was commissioned in 1954 to test the 'Blue Streak' Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. By the 1960's the need for a large nuclear arsenal wasn't required, but as the UK was the only country outside the US and USSR with rocket expertise, the 'Black Arrow' program to launch a British satellite into space was started in 1964.
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.
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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.

Ongoing project.