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RAF Leuchars, Domestic Side, Officers' Mess

A Category C Listed Building in Leuchars, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3773 / 56°22'38"N

Longitude: -2.8859 / 2°53'9"W

OS Eastings: 345387

OS Northings: 720913

OS Grid: NO453209

Mapcode National: GBR 2M.25ML

Mapcode Global: WH7RR.MYZY

Entry Name: RAF Leuchars, Domestic Side, Officers' Mess

Listing Date: 8 February 2010

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400581

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51420

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Leuchars

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Parish: Leuchars

Traditional County: Fife

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Dated 1939. Large complex of linked dining, recreation and accommodation wings arranged around largely U-plan courtyard with later alterations and additions particularly to central courtyard wing. Georgian Revival. Cream harl with moulded architraves to some entrance doors. Base course. Projecting cills. Some traditional 12-pane timber sash and case windows, predominantly non-traditional glazing. Some ridge stacks. Grey slate roofs.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: central courtyard wing: single storey 15-bay with gabled advanced 2-bay end bays and central 3-bay gabled advanced entrance porch with tripartite round-arched entrance with 1939 datestone above. Recessed glazed entrance doors with round-arched fanlights above. Long 2-storey flanking wings with 5 piended slated dormers and some gabled bays.

INTERIOR: (central courtyard wing, seen 2007) large reception room with simple cornicing and moulded stone chimneypiece with simple timber mantelpiece.

Statement of Interest

The Officers' Mess dates from the 1930s expansion of RAF Leuchars when the Air Ministry designated the airfield to be one of six of strategic importance. Dated 1939 it is a major component of the domestic side of the airfield. The building was built on the site of the 1922 Officers' Mess, although re-orinetated south to west instead of south to east. The design of the building was unique to RAF Leuchars when originally designed and it is likely to have been developed as a one-off type for RAF Coastal Command.

The design is unusual with a single storey mess and two storey officers' quarters. The two flanking wings of officers' accommodation are L-shaped in plan, and this may have been designed as a form of passive defence to ensure that officers were separated in the event of a surprise air raid at the base.

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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