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Needles Lighthouse

Isle of Wight, Hampshire

Location Guide

 Aerial photo by Marinas.com (more images available)

See also the article that we have on the Isle of Wight, although now a county of its own we use the older ceremonial counties so its in our indexes under Hampshire.

The needles made mostly of chalk stick out into the edge of the Solent at the western side on the Isle of Wight,  they form a line or narrow chalk peninsula. This in on the western approach to the Solent, giving access to Southampton and beyond this Portsmouth harbour. The peninsula rocks start from below the water line rising to the cliff height of 120m.

The light at the Needles has two white, two red and one green sector, with one of the red sectors intensified, these are arranged:-

Red intensified sector shore to 300 marks the St Anthony Rocks

White sector 300 to 083 marks the approach to the Needles Channel from the west

Red sector 083 to 212 marks the Shingles Bank

White sector 212 to 217 marks the course through the Needles Channel

Green sector 217 to 224 marks a safe channel past the Hatherwood Rocks and the Warden Ledge

Photo by Mark Pepall

Photo by Fleur Piercy


In 1781 merchants and ship owners petitioned Trinity House for a lighthouse. The patent grated in January 1782 says:-


the light should be kept burning in the nightseason whereby seafaring men and mariners might take notice and avoid danger..... and ships and other vessels of war might safely cruise during the night season in the British Channel.

In 1785 Trinity House erected 3  lighthouses, one at the Needles, the other two were the St Catherine's Point Lighthouse and Hurst Point Lighthouse.  

The designs were by  R. Jupp, who had been for 30 years surveyor to the East India Company. This first Needles lighthouse was on top of a cliff overhanging Scratchell's Bay, the light was 144m above sea level. It was lighted on the 29th September 1786.  However the height gave problems in that it was often obscured by sea mists and fogs and was therefore of limited use to mariners.

In 1859 Trinity House planned a new lighthouse to be built on the outermost of the chalk rocks near sea level. It was designed by James Walker and cost 20,000. The circular granite tower has perpendicular sides and is 33.25m high, of uniform diameter with an unevenly stepped base to break the waves and discourage sea sweeping up the tower.

The wall varies from 1.07m in thickness at the entrance to 0.61m at the top. Much of the base rock was cut away to form the foundation, and cellars and storehouses were excavated in the chalk.

A helipad was built on top of the Needles Lighthouse in 1987 and it was automated in 1994, the keepers left the lighthouse for the last time on 8th December that year.

The Needles was the last Trinity House lighthouse powered by 100V DC electricity from it's own generators. To enable the automation to be carried out mains power has been supplied via a sub-sea cable from the Needles Battery, which provides 240V AC power for the new equipment.

The original optic with it's arrangements of green and red glass giving the different coloured sectors of light remained after automation but a new three position lamp changer was installed with two 1500W 240V main lamps and a 24V battery powered emergency lamp.

The supertyphon air driven fog signal was replaced by two Honeywell ELG 500 Hz directional fog signals controlled by means of a fog detector. The emitter stacks were mounted at gallery level outside the heli-deck structure.

In 2010, there was a 500,000 project that rebuilt the base of the lighthouse, which was threatened by erosion by the sea.

The Needles is monitored and controlled by Trinity House Centre at Harwich, Essex.

Photo by Barry Shimmon - taken in 1987

Photo by Alan Vincent in 2004

Photo by Tony Grant


Lighthouse information Grid


Needles Lighthouse, Hampshire

Current status:

Currently in use

Geographic Position:

50 39'.70 N 01 35.42 W

Grid Reference:


Ceremonial County:



Cylindrical granite tower, incorporating keeper's quarters, with lantern and a helipad built above the lantern

Map Link:

Get-A-Map    Multimap

Aerial photo:

Marinas.com (best)   Multimap   Google satellite view

Other photos:

Geograph + one square east

1982 photo shows the lighthouse before the helipad was added

Originally built:


Current lighthouse built:


Height of Tower:

102ft 31m

Height of light above mean sea level:

80ft 24m

Character of light:

White, Red And Green Group, Occurring Twice Every 20 Seconds (Light 14 Seconds, Eclipse 2 Seconds, Light 2 Seconds, Eclipse 2 Seconds)

Character of fog signal:

Sounding Twice Every 30 Seconds - range ?

Range of light:

Red (Intensified) 17 nautical miles, white 17 nautical miles, red 14 nautical miles, green 14 nautical miles

Owned / run by:

Trinity House

Getting there:





Wiki  LD

Other Useful Websites:


Routes: Isle of Wight Coastal Path 
Nearby Locations: Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Other Relevant pages:

For more articles, lists and other information see the Lighthouses Section

Lighthouse Map of England and Wales

Featured List of Lighthouses - England and Wales  

List of Minor Lighthouses and Lights - England and Wales



Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park   Section:  Lighthouses Section Key:
Page Ref: Needles_Lighthouse Topic: Lighthouses Last Updated: 07/2010


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