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RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, Watch Office, Building 213

A Category C Listed Building in Leuchars, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3754 / 56°22'31"N

Longitude: -2.8802 / 2°52'48"W

OS Eastings: 345735

OS Northings: 720690

OS Grid: NO457206

Mapcode National: GBR 2N.26VW

Mapcode Global: WH7RY.Q0PW

Entry Name: RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, Watch Office, Building 213

Listing Date: 8 February 2010

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400363

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51424

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Leuchars

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Parish: Leuchars

Traditional County: Fife

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H Binge and F Hawbest, Air Ministry Drawing Number 2328/39; 1939. Flat-roofed 2-storey Modernist reinforced concrete and brick internal walls watch office with meteorological section. Principal S elevation of upper storey recessed to accommodate railed viewing platform and with curved glazed corners. Continous cill bands and eaves band. Near-continous glazing to S elevation. All glazing now non-traditional uPVC.

INTERIOR: converted to offices; original room plan believed to be largely extant. Concrete staircase with paired metal balusters and timber handrail.

Statement of Interest

This watch office dates from the 1930s expansion of RAF Leuchars when the Air Ministry designated the airfield to be one of six of strategic importance. Constructed in 1939 it is thought to be only surviving example of its design in Scotland and it was a critical key component of the operational side of the airfield. Its Modernist design with the curved upper storey with curved corner glazing and clean rendered finish shows that contemporary design permeated even into practical military structures.

There were two standard types of watch office to drawings 5845/39 (brick) and 2328/39 (concrete). The roof of the concrete type is surrounded by a concrete parapet wall (as at Leuchars) whilst the brick example includes railings to the rear and sides at roof level. The Watch Office at Leuchars also includes a night fighter control room to drawing 10342/42 which is built adjacent to the balloon filling room on the roof of the Watch Office.

The Watch Office replaced an earlier example which was located nearby and had originally been built as a flight office. Originally, 27 examples to drawing 2328/39 were built across the UK, information from AiX ARG Archive Limited suggests tha four these have subsequently been demolished.

RAF Leuchars is remarkable for its collection of airfield structures detailing aviation and military history from the First World War until the Cold War period and beyond. Within Scotland it is one of the best-preserved airfields and in UK terms it is considered to be within the ten most important sites. It is one of the earliest aerodromes in Scotland with balloon flights taking place from a nearby site in 1911 and the airfield itself became a permanent establishment by 1918. It was used as a training base in the 1920s and the site was chosen by the War Office for its major expansion of RAF Stations in the 1930s. A number of hangars and other buildings were added in 1938-9 and World War II acted as a catalyst for yet more development. Unusually, the airfield continued in use after the the Second World War and jet fighters were introduced in 1950. The construction of NATO Cold War defences in the early 1980s was further significant addition to the structures on the site. Buildings dating from all major stages of the airfield's development remain at Leuchars. It is currently the Royal Air Force's principal operational fighter station.

The site covers 371 hectares and has an east-west and northeast-southwest runway layout with perimeter taxiways and the typical arrangement of a domestic side and a technical side separated by a road.

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