The Needles Rocket Test Site

In September I ventured up to the Needles Rocket Test site to take a photo to enter into the Trip Historic Historic Photographer of the Year. I have to say I’m not really one for entering competitions, but this one appealed to the history buff in me and gave me an excuse to get out and take a photograph. As with any competition, there is more chance of winning if you enter.

I chose the Rocket Test Site as it’s relatively unknown in the grand scheme of British history, given that it played a very important and interesting role in the UK’s cold war nuclear program and later the British space program.

The idea behind the image was simple. I wanted to shoot it at night to link the role the site played in the British space program, the star trails were to reflect the short time the site was active. I also wanted to capture the rather brutalist, yet quite striking 1950’s architecture that was purely function over form. It’s not pretty, but it was constructed precisely to do one job: test rocket engines.

Here is the blurb I wrote for my entry:

The High Down Rocket Test Facility was a secret test site built in the 1950’s above the famous Needles Rocks on the Isle of Wight when the UK was at the forefront of rocket technology. It was built to test the engines of the Black Knight and Blue Streak ballistic missiles and Black Arrow rocket, the latter becoming the first and only successful orbital launch by the UK, placing the Prospero satellite in orbit.

The Rocket Test site played an important part in the UK’s early Cold War nuclear program and burgeoning space program, and is a rare example of a cutting edge Cold War test facility, crumbling relic hidden away in a small windy corner of a small Island.

There is a ‘peoples choice’ award, although I have no idea how that’s decided. If it’s on clicks to my entry, then please click this link here. Thank you.