Leuchars Station

Leuchars Station

Leuchars Station is a British Army Base, located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the historic town of St Andrews. It was formerly a Royal Air Force Base until 2015, when the installation was transferred to the British Army.

Leuchars Station history

Aviation at Leuchars Station dates all the way back to the First World War when the airfield was established to be a training unit, taking aircrew from initial flying training through to fleet co-operation work. Building was still under way when the Armistice was signed in 1918.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Leuchars became the number one Flying Training School and ranges for practice bombing were established in Tentsmuir Forest. Once the war clouds gathered however, the station’s maritime position on the west coast of Scotland meant that it soon undertook a far more important, wartime role of organising naval patrolling.

While Leuchars may not have secured the romantic image of a Battle of Britain station, maritime patrol played a crucial part in Britain’s ultimate victory over Axis powers.

Leuchars station became equally vital during the frostiest decades of the Cold War, providing interceptor aircraft following the development of long-range aircraft that allowed the Soviets regular incursion into British air space.

The base would remain an important RAF installation until 2015, when the station was transferred to the Army Core as part of defence spending cuts in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010.

Leuchars Station today

In December 2018, there were approximately 750 members of the UK regular armed forces, 30 members of the full-time reserve service personnel and 100 civil servants based at Leuchars.

The installation is still home to several RAF units and visitors to St Andrews will undoubtedly hear and see aircraft flying sporadically overhead.

Getting to Leuchars Station

Leuchars Station is a 5-minute walk away from Leuchars Train Station, which itself is the closest railway station to the town of St Andrews.

The 99 bus route service can take you from the town to Leuchars in just 15 minutes.


Leuchars Station - History

Note: text in square brackets is added for clarity and was not part of the location's name.

Description

This is an island platform station which today is the closest to St Andrews. There is a car park on the east side of the station.

The station opened with the Tay Bridge replacing Leuchars (Old) just to the north but not on the new line to the bridge being on the older approach to Tayport.

The station had a bay at each end, the southern one being for the St Andrews Railway branch. Both bays have been filled in. There were signal boxes for the junction at either end too, both on the east side.

There were sidings on the west side of the station. North of the station as far as Leuchars (Old) the line was quadruple track.

The north box was replaced in 1920 when a siding was laid into RAF Leuchars which is just to the east of the north end of the station. In addition further sidings were laid between the junction and Leuchars (Old) on the west side of the line, approached from the south. The sidings on the west side of the station were also altered and the headshunt provided with a loop.

The line to Leuchars (Old) was singled in 1959 and closed in 1967, however the siding into RAF Leuchars remained open. With the closure of Leuchars South box in 1970, the year after the St Andrews [2nd] line closed in 1969, the box was renamed simply ^Leuchars^.

Link to St Andrews

A regular bus service links the station to St Andrews with a 10 minutes journey time.

Passenger traffic to Leuchars station has more than doubled since 2000.

Much of the former railway route remains today. Exceptions are the dismantled bridge over the River Eden at Guard Bridge and occupation of the trackbed at Guard Bridge and on construction around the sites of the former St Andrews [1st] and St Andrews [2nd] stations.

Local

RAF Leuchars was to the east of the station.

It is perhaps revealing that even the North British Railway^s guide to the East Coast Main Line described the station and village minimally


Leuchars Station Opens Its Doors To The Community

A former RAF base that was handed over to the Army has opened its gates to the public for the first time in three years.

Transformation for RAF Leuchars Underway

Her Majesty The Queen Visits The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

A former RAF base that was handed over to the Army has opened its gates to the public for the first time in three years.

Leuchars Station, in Fife, Scotland, is now home to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and they have invited the community back to showcase what they do.

During the open day, children were able to dress up as soldiers and visitors were able to take pictures with the personnel and handle some of the equipment used by the Armed Forces.

Lt Col Dominic Coombes, SCOTS DG Commanding Officer, said: “The RAF have a great legacy here, and I’m hoping we will have one too.

"We’re a Scottish regiment back in Scotland after 30 years in Germany, it’s a great opportunity to remind people of who we are.”

Entertainment throughout the day included training displays and performances by the Pipes and Drums of SCOTS DG.

The RAF were based at Leuchars for 95 years before the base was handed over to the army in 2015.

Formerly RAF Leuchars, the station became home to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 2 Close Support Battalion of the REME and 110 Provost Company of the Royal Military Police.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are Scotland's most senior and only regular cavalry regiment.


  • Based at Leuchars Station in Fife.
  • Provides clinical personnel from the medical, nursing and health professional fields to support the UK military.
  • Specialists in Aeromedical Evacuation and Deployed Pre-Hospital Care.
  • Personnel are recruited in Northern England and Scotland.

1938 &ndash Formed at RAF Dyce (Aberdeen) in the Coastal Patrol role.

1941-43 &ndash Fought in the battle of the Atlantic operating from various bases including Iceland.

1946 &ndash Re-roled as part of Fighter Command flying Spitfires.

1951 &ndash Became the first RAuxAF unit to fly the Vampire jet fighter which it retained until its disbandment in 1957.


Leuchars Station - History

RAF Station Commanders - Scotland, North-East England and Northern Ireland

1 Jul 1936 SHQ opened

12 Nov 1936 Sqn Ldr D F McIntyre AuxAF

17 Aug 1938 Wg Cdr H W Evens

1 Dec 1938 Gp Capt J H O Jones

13 Sep 1939 Sqn Ldr H N J Tandal

20 Oct 1939 Flt Lt L G Gray

28 Nov 1939 Flt Lt W M Mackay

11 Jan 1940 Flt Lt R G Bradbury

14 Mar 1940 Gp Capt A W Fletcher

25 May 1943 Wg Cdr B Heywood-Jones (killed 3 Jul 1943)

11 Aug 1943 Handed over to the Royal Navy

1 Apr 1938 Wg Cdr J T Paine*

27 Oct 1939 Wg Cdr J S L Adams (satellite of RAF Usworth)

20 May 1940 Wg Cdr B B Caswell

17 Aug 1940 Wg Cdr H J Pringle

15 Aug 1941 Wg Cdr D O Finlay

8 May 1942 Wg Cdr E Graham

6 Mar 1945 Gp Capt P P Hanks***

8 May 1945 Wg Cdr G W Petre***

6 Jan 1953: Wg Cdr R A Barton

xx xxx 1956 Gp Capt N de W Boult

5 Jun 1961 Wg Cdr B A Colvin

26 Feb 1968 Wg Cdr H Harrison

2 Dec 1968 Wg Cdr D J Penman

xx xxx 1972 Placed on C & M

*OC, No 7 Armament training Camp

9 Nov 1936 Wg Cdr J C P Wood

15 Dec 1938 Wg Cdr N C Saward

xx Oct 1939 Gp Capt C S Richardson

21 Dec 1940 Gp Capt G W Bentley

xx Mar 1941 Wg Cdr W R Leftlay

xx Oct 1941 Gp Capt H N Hampton

xx Nov 1943 Gp Capt L R Briggs

xx Jul 1945 Gp Capt T H Carr

xx Aug 1945 Gp Capt M C Collins

xx Mar 1946 Gp Capt M Y Ridgeway

xx Jul 1948 Gp Capt C N J Stanley-Turner

xx Apr 1950 Gp Capt S L Blunt

xx Jul 1951 Gp Capt Coote

xx Dec 1953 Gp Capt K W Niblett

xx Apr 1958 Gp Capt C E A Garton

28 Oct 1960 Gp Capt A J Trumble

28 Oct 1963 Wg Cdr I H Cosby

xx Feb 1964 Gp Capt W L Clarke

6 Sep 1965 Gp Capt I Whittaker

xx Dec 1970 Gp Capt D Goodrich

14 Oct 1971 Gp Capt J E Cockfield

xx Feb 1975 Gp Capt G J Claridge

xx Feb 1979 Gp Capt R C Olding

30 Jan 1981 Gp Capt D Whittaker

21 Jan 1983 Gp Capt A Salter

1 Feb 1985 Gp Capt H W Hall

xx xxx 1988 Gp Capt A J Stables

xx Mar 1989 Gp Capt D G Hawkins

xx xxx 1991 Gp Capt D M Niven

xx Jun 1993 Gp Capt R E Wedge

xx Jul 1995 Gp Capt B G Freeman

xx Aug 1997 Gp Capt K W Ifould

xx Jul 2000 Gp Capt J M M Ponsonby

xx May 2002 Gp Capt M A Sharp

xx Apr 2004 Gp Capt B M North

xx Feb 2006 Gp Capt I K Bell

xx Oct 2006 Gp Capt D J Stubbs

xx Nov 2008 Gp Capt D N Cass (until Sep/Oct 2009)

From 16 Oct 1957 the OC, RAF Aldergrove was also Senior RAF Off, Northern Ireland


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FEATURE: Celebrating 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day and remembering ‘huge loss’ of RAF Leuchars Airshow

© DC Thomson

Michael Alexander speaks to air enthusiast and Arbroath businesswoman Gill Howie about the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the “huge loss” of the RAF Leuchars Airshow.

When decades of aviation history drew to a close at RAF Leuchars in September 2014 with the departure of the final fast jets ahead of the base’s handover to the Army the following spring, Arbroath-based air enthusiast Gill Howie, who owns Squadron Prints Ltd, was not ashamed to admit that she cried.

Along with a gathering of fellow air enthusiasts, she watched as 10 jets attached to 1 (Fighter) Squadron set off for their new home at RAF Lossiemouth.

When the final aircraft took off low – flown by departing RAF Leuchars Station Commander and Air Officer Scotland, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew – he waggled the aircraft’s wings as it did so before doing a circuit over Guardbridge, heading out towards the sea before returning and shooting straight up – its afterburners roaring as it disappeared into the clouds.

There was then an overwhelming silence as the era of permanently stationed fast jets at Leuchars came to an end…

Unbelievably for some, it’s almost 5.5 years since RAF Leuchars became ‘Leuchars Station’ with the former Leuchars-based Typhoons providing quick reaction alert (QRA) cover for the north of the UK from Moray instead.

© DC Thomson

With a new dawn coming in the form of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and other army personnel who made Leuchars their home from March 31, 2015, around 55 RAF personnel were retained to keep Leuchars’ runway operational as a diversionary airfield.

However, with this weekend marking the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day – the pivotal large-scale aerial battle won by the RAF that took place over south east England on September 15, 1940 – and with Battle of Britain Day weekend also traditionally hosting the popular RAF Leuchars airshow – which was held for the final time in September 2013 – the outstanding military aviation history associated with RAF Leuchars will not be far from Gill’s mind.

Growing up in Arbroath, Aberdeen-born Gill was a regular visitor to Leuchars as a youngster.

She was fascinated by its humble beginnings as a pre-First World War balloon station, with RAF Leuchars growing throughout the Second World War and beyond to become one of the UK’s foremost air defence stations.

It’s exemplary record as the home of northern QRA stood as a testament to the professionalism and dedication of its people, and as a young woman, Gill would often “plane spot” from the end of the runway when she finished work every Wednesday afternoon.

For the past 20 years, however, Gill has been fortunate to work full time in the aviation industry through her ownership of Squadron Prints.

Since 1977, the company has been producing aircraft profile prints and lithographs for the world’s greatest squadrons. Gill took over in 2000 and the business has continued to keep busy despite the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

However, as someone who admits she gets emotional at the slightest thing, Gill has also been reflecting during lockdown on what the RAF means to her.

She feels incredibly lucky that had it not been for the RAF, she would not have a business, a husband and a “bucket load of wonderful friends and extended family”.

“My whole life has really revolved around Leuchars – not just the airshow but the station,” Gill told The Courier.

© DC Thomson

“My dad, who was helped by the RAF Benevolent Fund, was an instrument engineer – he served at Montrose, Edzell, was in Mountain Rescue, and was out of the military before I was born. But I think that’s where my interest in aviation came from.

“When I was working after school, on Wednesdays, I used to sit at the end of the runway – peering over the fence – or go to the airshow every September. That’s how I used to get to know people like (former Station Commander, Air Commodore) Jack Haines.

“It was unusual for a girl to be hanging about with a camera watching planes in those days, so it caught a fair bit of attention.”

Gill’s love of aviation at Leuchars developed in to a worldwide passion for aircraft and that of the RAF.

She built up good friendships “inside the wire” and to this day keeps in touch with a number of former young Leuchars pilots – now more senior in their careers.

However, thanks to the RAF staging air shows, she also met her husband Berry Vissers – a former crew chief in the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

“The late Alan Carlaw and Dugald Cameron –a former professor at Glasgow School of Art – started it all off back in 1977,” she said.

“They had been at Leuchars and down to the Royal Review – and had done a drawing by way of thank you for 43 squadron. They said they liked it so much could they get prints as gifts. It took off from there.

“My dad knew Alan, who was like an uncle to me, and wanted to retire in 2000. He wanted to sell the business.

“I’ve had it for 20 years now.

“After my dad passed away in 2001, I went to Waddington Airshow with my mum and met Berry, who was a crew chief on F-16s at the time.

“I met him in a pub in Lincoln. During the course of Waddington Airshow weekend, he was popping in and out of our stall as they were looking for somewhere to sell squadron memorabilia. We gave them a corner of our stall.

“It went from there. We kept in touch by email, met at airshows, and bob’s your uncle!

“He became part of the business in 2003, and we’ve been at it ever since!”

The day to day business of Squadron Prints, which now also now employs Tom Gibbons (former Royal International Air Tattoo operations) and Shirley Strachan (mail order), comprises aviation art which gives squadrons and the public the chance to “have an airshow” on their wall.

However, a lot of business nowadays is actually embroidery of t-shirts, patches and military supply.

They help squadrons and pilots “badge up”.

Berry, 51, who used to do a lot of aerial photography, focuses on the designs.

With a meticulous eye for detail honed by his time in the military, he will, for example, design new flying suit badges and tail insignia for squadrons.

“He’s a graphic designer really but his detail is in the knowledge of the aircraft,” said Gill.

“He’s a complete spotter – photographer, number cruncher – the lot. He likes things to be right. He likes his artwork to be as factually correct as possible.”

Thinking back to the annual Leuchars Airshow, Gill says it was a “massive loss without a doubt”.

While incredibly hard work, they used to make more money that Saturday than any other event through the year.

However, having made the decision last year to stop doing remaining English airshows on grounds of hassle and cost, and of course not knowing at that time what 2020 would bring, they’ve been making the best of the Covid-19 world with demand for mail order sales on the rise.

“I think because of lockdown we’ve had the chance to reflect on how lucky we’ve been,” she said.

“I suppose I do take it for granted but at the same time I’ve felt hugely privileged about some of the things we’ve been able to do.

“For example, the RAF 100 thing. Never in a million years did I think I’d be sitting in Westminster Abbey as part of RAF 100.

“To be there in amongst royalty walking down Horse Guards parade and to know that everyone in that flypast was wearing a patch and a t-shirt we had devised – that was hugely emotional!

“But equally I will never forget bringing the Red Arrows to Arbroath and seeing peoples’ faces there, or bringing other aircraft to Perth for the Heart of Scotland Airshow.”

While she’s keen to ensure the history of RAF Leuchars is never forgotten, she’s also proud of the association with the Battle of Britain and the role of ‘The Few’.

“Without the role of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do and enjoy,” said Gill, who is the proud owner of a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight artwork signed by the late Vera Lynn.

“The sacrifices to keep our country free is long forgotten by some people.

“I’ve been very lucky meeting heroes from that time. I’m just hugely proud of what they did for us.”


Leuchars Station - History

About Leuchars

Leuchars is situated on the peninsula lying between the estuaries of the Rivers Forth and Tay. It has a parish church, dating from the 12th century, which is considered by many experts to be the finest Norman church in Scotland. About half a mile from the village is the 16th century Earshall Castle and 3 miles outside the village is Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve/Kinshaldy Beach which provides plenty of scope for woodland and seaside walks.

There are frequent bus and train services to all parts of Fife and beyond. The railway station is a 10 minute walk from the village. There is ample car parking at a cost of £1.00 per day. The local bus services connect with St Andrews and Dundee every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 20 minutes on Sundays.

Dundee, Scotlands 4th largest city offers Cinemas, a Leisure Centre, Ice Rink, Repertory Theatre as well as shopping and places to eat.

Nearby St Andrews has a Leisure Centre, Byre Theatre and Cinema as well as independent retailers and places to eat.

Upcoming Events

Events planned for the Let's Light Up Leuchars fundraising are:

Commercial Arms Quiz and Games Night – 06 October starting at 7.00pm

Ye Olde Hotel Quiz Night and Big Raffle – 12 October starting at 7.30pm

Ye Olde Hotel Poker Night – 19 October starting at 7.30pm

Ye Olde Hotel Race Night – 03 November starting at 8.00pm

Jazzercise Glow Party - Leuchars Station Community Centre 06 November at 6.00pm

LLUL Switch On – 30 November timings to be confirmed

Quiz Night, Disco and Raffle - Ye Olde Hotel 12 October at 7.30pm

Poker Night - Ye Olde hotel 19 October at 7.30pm

Ye Olde Hotel Halloween Disco - 26 October at 8.30pm

Earlshall Sports Pitch Bonfire Night Tombola and Glowsticks -01 November

Race Night - Ye Olde Hotel 03 November at 8.00pm

Other fundraising events still happening are the Whisky Trail available in the Commercial Arms, Guess the Flowers/Shrubs available from Nancy Christie and Raffle Tickets on sale in the Post Office and Chinese Takeaway. If anyone would like to help sell raffle tickets please contact Wilma Henderson or any Community Councillor.

This is a great place to advertise upcoming community events. If you know of a future event that you would like to see listed here please get in touch.

Current News

Earlshall Castle

Earlshall Castle, near Leuchars, has its origins in the 16th C. It is currently lived in as a privately owned home, not open to the public. It gardens are quite spectacular. read more >>


Leuchars

Leuchars (pronounced i/ˈluːxərs/ or /ˈluːkərz/ Scottish Gaelic: Luachar "rushes") is a small town near the north-east coast of Fife in Scotland.

The town is nearly 2 miles (3 km) to the north of the village of Guardbridge, which lies on the north bank of the River Eden where it widens to the Edenmouth estuary before joining the North Sea at St Andrews Bay. Leuchars is 7+1⁄2 miles (12 km) north-east of Cupar and 6 miles (9.7 km) north-west from the university town of St Andrews. The city of Dundee is 7 miles (11 km) to the north, across the rail and road bridges that span the Firth of Tay.

The town is now best known for the adjoining Royal Air Force base, RAF Leuchars, which was established in 1920, and is home to the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The 12th century St Athernase Church is one of the finest surviving examples of an unaisled Romanesque parish church in Scotland, or indeed anywhere in Great Britain, with two levels of blind arcading in the Norman style running round the exterior, surmounted by a corbel table with heads of various designs. The interior has elaborate chancel and apse arches, and a series of powerful beast-heads on the corbels supporting the ribs of the internal vaults. The nave has unfortunately been rebuilt. The apse roof is crowned by a rather incongruous small bell-tower added in the 17th century.

The surrounding area was improved by drainage in the 18th century. In the 19th century, a railway station on the line from Edinburgh to Aberdeen brought increased prosperity to the town. When the branch line to St Andrews was closed in the late 1960s, Leuchars became the closest place to get the train. Since then, Leuchars railway station has been used by many University of St Andrews students.


A Short Picture History of Gas Stations

Drive-in gas stations weren’t just about fuel: They helped create American driving culture.

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The first drive-in service station opened in Pennsylvania on this day in 1913. American motorists had been able to pump their own gas at filling stations since 1905, but those were little more than a pump at the curbside. Before that, motorists bought gasoline in cans from places like pharmacies and blacksmith shops and filled up themselves. With the opening of this service station at the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in Pittsburgh, a cultural institution was born.

The service station was opened by the Gulf Refining Company, writes the American Oil and Gas Historical Society. “Unlike earlier simple curbside gasoline filling stations, an architect purposefully designed the pagoda-style brick facility [that] offered free air, water, crankcase service and tire and tube installation,” the AOGHS writes.

It looked a lot like full-service gas stations today. With a brightly illuminated roof, it provided shelter from bad weather, the AOGHS writes, and it had a manager and four attendants to help with refueling and repairs.

Stopping at a drive-in gas station was different from pulling over to fuel up. For one thing, it offered new retail opportunities to gas station owners. “In addition to gas, the Gulf station also offered free air and water–and sold the first commercial road maps in the United States,” writes the AOGHS.

Gas stations helped shape the American road. Take a look at their past:   

A filling station in Hollywood, California, at night. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division) A family of four buying gas at a service station. (Library of Congress) An automobile service station in Atlantic City, New Jersey, sometime before 1930. (Library of Congress) A sign on a filling station window in Sisseton, South Dakota, circa September 1939. (Library of Congress) A filling station in Orofino, Idaho, circa July 1941. (Library of Congress) A filling station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1942. (Library of Congress) A filling station in Solano County, California, circa December 1940. (Library of Congress)
About Kat Eschner

Kat Eschner is a freelance science and culture journalist based in Toronto.


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