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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: B
  • Group Category Details: A - See Notes
  • Date Added: 25/08/2006


  • Local Authority: Fife
  • Planning Authority: Fife
  • Parish: Crail

National Grid Reference

  • NGR: NO 62170 9288
  • Coordinates: 362170, 709288


1939-40. 7-bay pitched roof former Gymnasiumn and Cinema with lower recessed 2-storey flat-roofed projection to S elevation with central triple set of 2-leaf timber timber doors to ground with simple rectangular fanlights above. Smooth cement rendered brick. Metal-framed windows, some multi-pane with top hoppers. Non-traditional glazing to 1st floor to flat-roofed projection to S. Asbestos roof.

INTERIOR: rarely at Crail Airfield, some features of interest remain. Canted timber ticket booth to entrance area. Cinema/gymnasium space with sprung timber floor. Some equipment, such as ropes and timber beams survive. Tiered gallery inset to N.

Statement of Special Interest

All listings at Crail Airfield are Group Category A. The Runways are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The Gymnasium and Cinema is noted as building number 14 on the DTZ/LDN report.

Crail Airfield is the best preserved example of a Second World War Naval Airfield in Scotland. It is remarkable for its survival, completeness and the rarity of some of the individual buildings. It is highly significant not only in the wider terms of Naval and Second World War history, but is also of great local importance. Crail was one of 4 airfields constructed in the early war period (along with Arbroath in Angus, Yeovilton in Somerset, and St Merryn in Cornwall). It follows the Naval pattern of 4 narrow hard runways and associated brick, concrete and corrugated iron structures. The runways are part of the main operational side, the 'Technical Area' to the South-East. The recreation and living quarters of the 'West Camp' are located to the North-West. These areas are separated by the road between Crail and Balcomie. The aircraft hangars and the great majority of the interiors are the most significant losses at the site. Many buildings have been altered and are in a poor state of repair. Around 2000 personnel were stationed at Crail Airfield, both living at the airfield itself and billeted in Crail and the surrounding area.

An airfield operated briefly at Crail in 1918 during the First World War. It was closed in 1919 and no buildings from this period are thought to survive. The site was re-acquired in 1938 and construction of a new airfield began in 1939. In 1940 the site was commissioned as the Royal Naval Air Station HMS Jackdaw and functioned as the main Fleet Air Arm base for training pilots in torpedo warfare. Crail housed 785, 786 and 711 Squadrons and was never a permanent home to an active front line squadron. At Crail pilots were taught the art of flying low over the water, dropping dummy and live torpedoes. The last permanently based aircraft left the base in 1947 and the site became HMS Bruce - the Royal Navy Boys' Training Facility until 1949. It was subsequently an Army Transit Camp (including a mobilisation base for the Black Watch 1952-4) from 1950-4 and served as the Joint Services School for Linguistics during the period 1955-60. The site was then sold and the majority of the buildings were adapted for pig farming. Some farming still takes place along with car boot sales and amateur car racing events (2006). The majority of the airfield was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1997 and this was reviewed in 2006 with a reduced area of scheduling covering the runways and selective listing of the built structures.



Council for British Archaeology, 20TH CENTURY DEFENCES IN BRITAIN AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE (1995). Paul Francis, BRITISH MILITARY AIRFIELD ARCHITECTURE (1996). Unpublished report, DTZ Pieda Consulting/LDN Architects, CRAIL AIRFIELD DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS (2004). Further information courtesy of owner.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 23/10/2016 07:03