The name Leuchars comes from the Gaelic word "luachair" meaning place of the rushes. There was a settlement of sorts here in the late 1100s when Robert de Quinci built Leuchars Castle on Castle Knowe, half a mile to the north.
Leuchars Castle and its two successors built in the 1300s and 1500s have long since gone, leaving little more than the artificial mound on which they stood. Also built by Robert de Quinci but rather more enduring was Leuchars Parish Church, built in 1187 and dedicated to St Athernase in 1244. The original choir and apse still stand at the east end of today's church, a stunning example of the very best of Norman architecture.
In 1848 Leuchars became the temporary terminus of the Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway as it progressed north from Cupar. The line from Leuchars to Tayport was completed in 1850. Leuchars became a junction station when the line to St Andrews was built in 1852, and in 1878 the line to the Tay Rail Bridge and Dundee was built from Leuchars.
The line to Tayport closed in 1956 and that to St Andrews in 1969. "The Home of Golf" is now served from Leuchars Station by bus and taxi links covering the intervening four miles or so. Leuchars itself continues to be well served by trains, being on the main line from Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen with direct services to all those cities as well as to London.
Leuchars' other main claim to fame dates back to 1908, when the War Office acquired land to the east of Leuchars Church on which to test man-carrying kites.
So began the story of what is now one of the longest continuously operating military airfields in the world. In 1935, RAF Leuchars underwent a major modernisation in time for its service during WWII and it was in the front line of the UK's air defences throughout the Cold War. During that period many of the current buildings including the hardened aircraft shelters you can see from St Andrews were constructed.
RAF Leuchars saw in the third millennium as the RAF's busiest fighter base and it was also home to the annual Leuchars Airshow, one of the best in the UK. Times change, however, and RAF Leuchars was transferred to the Army. The final airshow took place on 7 September 2013.
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