Alum Bay and the Needles
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This is the fascinating story of one of the UK's most famous tourist attractions, the Needles on the Isle of Wight.

The Needles, graced by the red and white lighthouse tower, is one of the most characteristic landmarks of the British Isles. Each year, over half a million people come to see the three great chalk stacks, the unique coloured sands of Alum Bay, the chalk cliffs, the restless ocean, and the downs and heath that crown the bay with magnificent views over three counties.

The book tells the story from the beginning, including the natural history, and the people who have made a living on these windswept hills, cliffs and sea for some ten thousand years, including smugglers and cliffmen. The book also tells of how the treacherous shores have claimed many fine ships. The story then moves to Victorian times, when Alum Bay and the Needles became a fashionable tourist attraction, with steamers calling from mainland ports to the pier, and with a grand hotel constructed above the cliffs.

It was at the Needles in 1897 where Marconi established the first permanent radio station, and where in the 1950s rockets were tested from many fortifications and military facilities constructed there. The book tells of the slow decline of the Needles as a tourist attraction between 1909 and 1971, in which year the Needles Pleasure Park was developed, and the place was reborn as a mixture of natural beauty and theme park. The history of the Pleasure Park is told, including the background to its most famous ride, the Chairlift over the cliffs.


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