Friday, November 17, 2023

Britain's secret Isle of Wight rocket base of the 1950s

A report from Historic England explains:

The remains of the High Down Test Site are a rare example of a 1950s British rocket test facility, built at a time when the country was amongst a handful of nations at the forefront of rocket and missile technology. Internationally, large rocket testing facilities of this date are uncommon, restricted to the two Superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and possibly France. It is also a visible reminder of the Isle of Wight’s aviation heritage, in such specialised fields as flying boats, rocket powered interceptor fighter and hovercraft, and in particular its contribution to space technology.

Most of the site’s ancillary buildings have been demolished and the metal work of the test stands removed, nevertheless, its plan form and remaining features may be used to illustrate the operation of a post-war rocket test facility. The site and surrounding down land is owned by the National Trust and is publicly accessible.

In his last diary Lord Bonkers mentioned that militant Isle of Wight Separatists were believed to be active in London at one time. Perhaps the building of this base was one of their grievances?

Jago Hazzard takes us through the site's history and shows us what remains today. You can support his videos via his Patreon page.


Matt Pennell said...

I'm sure Lord Bonkers doesn't need me to tell him, but the Isle of Wight Separatists, radicalised by Fairport Convention's performance at the 1968 Festival, are in league with the Red Squirrels on Brownsea Island, and the sheep on Osea Island.

They all need to be watched very closely!

Anonymous said...

This was about the time that Steve Ross was laying the foundations for becoming a Liberal MP. I grew up in the Island and helped to found its Young Liberals branch.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the rocket tests were a grievance of the IoW separatists. They were a strategy.