Gagarin Statue Campaign – Open Letter

The campaign to bring the statue of Yuri Gagarin continues to attract support and now has almost 400 supporters who have signed the petition.  Over the  last few weeks  two dozen individuals, many of whom you will recognise, have added their significant weight to the campaign and signed the open letter below.

The names include Sir Patrick Moore from Sky at Night, Professor Andre Geim, a Nobel Prize winning Physicist from Manchester University, and a guy who went to the Moon – astronaut Al Worden, the Command Module Pilot  on Apollo 15.  In the coming weeks, I expect to add to the list of hyperlinked names below.

If you have not yet signed the on-line petition, you can do it here.

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An open letter to those charged with making the decision on where the Statue of Yuri Gagarin will be relocated in 2012

To mark the 50th anniversary the first human spaceflight, a statue of Yuri Gagarin was unveiled by Gagarin’s daughter Elena in London on 14th July 2011, but planning restrictions require that it is relocated by July 2012.   The most appropriate new destination is Manchester.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union, traveling higher and faster than any human before him, made the world’s first human spaceflight on 12th April 1961. Three months later, 12th July, during a short but heartfelt ceremony in a congested boardroom of a union office in Manchester, Gagarin was made the very first honorary member of the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers.

Prior to joining the Soviet Air Force Gagarin had successfully completed his training in foundry work. He celebrated his working class roots by accepting the invitation from the union and visited a foundry in Trafford Park, the world’s first and largest industrial estate. Despite the driving rain, the people of Manchester lined his route to wave and welcome him. Standing in his open top Bentley, soaked, he waved back.

This diminutive young spaceman was the first human to experience the alien sensation of weightlessness whilst circling the Earth at five mile a second. It was an extremely hazardous adventure from which he himself did not think he would return safely. But he did, and overnight became the twentieth century’s first global superstar. But he was a Russian, a Communist and potentially the enemy in the heart of Europe in the midst of the Cold War.  In every speech, accompanied by his tenacious but sincere smile, he repeated his appeal for peace, collaboration and friendship. He brought fresh hope and optimism to a population recovering from two World Wars, who feared the horror of another.

Recalling his visit to a foundry in Manchester several months after his visit to the city, Gagarin said “the firm handshakes of my fellow workers in the moulding shop were dearer to me than many awards”.  I think if Gagarin could choose, he would prefer the statue to be re-sited midst the working class traditions and people of Manchester.


Gurbir Singh 14/11/2011 (


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Below are some of the signatories who support the campaign for the statue to be relocated in Manchester in 2012.


Sir Patrick Moore – Presenter of Sky at Night and Author

Al Worden – Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot

Professor Andre Geim – Physicist (Nobel Prize for Physics 2010)

Reg Turnill – Former BBC Journalist

Dr Chris Riley – Writer and Film Maker

Piers Bizony – Author

Professor Jim Al-Khalili – Physicist, Broadcaster & Author

Dr Heather Couper – Astronomer, TV Presenter and Author

Nigel Henbest – Consultant, TV Producer and Author

Captain Eric Brown – Test pilot

Dr Allan Chapman – Historian at University of Oxford & Author

Francis French – Author

Colin Burgess – Author

Dave and Leslie Wright – British Rocketry Oral History Programme

Professor Andrew Jenks – Author

Nick Spall – Space writer

Professor Asif Siddiqi – Author

Mike Little – WordPressing co-founding developer

Michael Cassutt – Author

Richard Evans – Science Fiction Author

Professor Jim Aulich – Visual Culture at MMU

David J Shayler – Author

Professor Sergei Utyuzhnikov – University of Manchester

Professor Malcolm Heath – University of Leeds

Professor Carl Murray – Scientist on Cassini probe currently orbiting Saturn

Brian Harvey  author

Bert Vis author

Tony Lloyd MP for Manchester central

Michael Wood – Historian and author

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  1. Alan Lomas says:

    Aged 4, at Crimsworth Nursery on Upper Chorlton Road, I was taken outside to wave along with the other children. I remember him clearly, though I don’t recall it raining. This is about a mile from his trade union destination at Brooks Bar. As a child the fact that the only man in space happens to be driving past your school doesn’t seem so extraordinary. I support the campaign.

  2. Barrie D. Eckford says:

    Sir, Just heard Mr.Gubir Singh on BBC Radio Manchester appeal for interest in the cause to bring the Cosmonaut Comrade Gagarin to M/cr.
    I too would wish to sign the appeal & should a public subscription be declared, then I would gladly add a small monitory amount.
    Many countries have a street or building in recognition of his & the Soviet achievement; M/cr. should be seriously considered.
    Barrie Eckford of Sale

  3. Yelena Sabel says:

    Yuri gave so much hope, pride and gratitude to Manchester it is only fair that we show him the same respect.

    Yelena Sabel

  4. Lisa Sabel says:

    Go Gagarin!

  5. John Sabel says:

    It would be nice for mancunians to commemorate what was a great achievement in science and technology in Soviet Union!

  6. Lisa Sabel says:

    Gagarin my hero.

  7. John Sabel says:

    I am fully support the apoeal

  8. It seems only fitting that Manchester host the statue. They took the lead in inviting Yuri to England in the first place.


  1. […] including writing letters, distributing leaflets, signing the petition and adding your name to the open letter. The press release indicates that the move to the new location is subject to planning permission. […]

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