National Geographic : 1915 Jul
Photo by Emil P. Albrecht THE NEEDLES: SOUTHAMPTON These are jagged chalk rocks resting upon bases of darker stone rising Ioo feet from the sea, a warning and a menace to mariners bound for Southampton. The cliffs form the westernmost point of the Isle of Wight. Cowes, with the best harbor on the island, is at its northernmost point, opposite Southampton and but two miles from the mainland. Ryde, farther to- the east, is almost directly opposite Portsmouth, the great naval station. The island is about 65 miles in circumference and rises nearly 80o feet above the sea. chief naval base. It is made up of four towns - Portsea, Southsea, Landport, and Portsmouth - smallest, but name giver, and has a magnificent harbor nearly five miles long, reaching into Spit head. PORTSMOUTH'S DOCKYARDS The dockyard covers 300 acres, the re pairing basins 60 acres, and there are drydocks and building slips capable of holding the largest superdreadnought. Southampton docks are probably in use also at present for naval purposes. Spit head and the Solent are mined; there are no crowds on the cliffs above Ryde, no yacht squadron fluttering its white sails in and out of Cowes. In these days, when history is in the making, it seems futile to recall the past; yet one old memory will be heard even today. It was on Southampton shores that Canute rebuked the courtiers who proclaimed his command of the sea. Probably those double tides were puz zling to the Danes. Ah, they were stirring days! Yet not more so than now. Go on round the coast, if you will, from port to port, com ing finally to where Dover faces France. Ask the castle on the white cliff there what it has seen-Roman, Saxon, Dane, and Norman; how the invaders come; how, too, the white fleets go out to meet them. And now again there is war in the channel and the rocks and forts keep guard. "Keep then the sea that is the wall of England." The cry is four centuries old; but bravely the ports, little and big, have kept the word and today would keep it still.