|Alum Bay and the Needles
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.
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.