back to article Yuri Gagarin in triumphant return to London

London will later this year pay homage to Yuri Gagarin with a 12ft statue honouring the first man in space, set to touch down in the Mall on 14 July. The statue of Yuri Gagarin. Photo: Andrea Rose/British Council The statue is a gift from the Russian space agency Roscosmos to the British Council. It's a copy of an original …


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  1. martinwjordan


    I love the statue - its simple, elegant and relatively unpretentious. A break from the stuffy corinthian stuff that clutters our city statue areas... Nice of the russians to donate it too. What can we send them? Perhaps Al Fayed's jacko statue

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      Jacko's Statue

      Er no, the idea is to IMPROVE Anglo-Russian relations.

    2. lawndart

      How about

      A statue of Christopher Cockerill standing on/by a miniature SR.N1? That was about the same time during a period of post-war innovation and scientific advancement.

      1. Tony Green

        Christopher Cockerill

        Maybe a copy of the hovercraft column ( unveiled last year by his daughter on what would have been hist 100th birthday?

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Looks like he's

      Dancing with the Stars.

  2. Chris Miller
    Thumb Up


    Why is there an extra (Cyrillic) letter Y on the end of the inscription GAGARIN, is it a case ending? Sorry, my Russian vocab is OK, but my grammar is appalling ...

    1. noroimusha
      Thumb Up


      it means "for Gagarin"

      explanation is from of my missus

      thumbs up cause the statue is very nice

    2. Ian 25

      dative case

      It's dative case, if that helps impress your mates down the pub.....

      Ga-gar-inu (roll the R a bit for extra poncey points)

      1. Chris Miller

        большое спасибо

        I knew I could rely on the good readers of elReg.

  3. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    A "hastily arranged" lunch with the Queen...

    That phrase conjurers up pictures of Liz, dressed in an apron, rooting through Tupperware boxes at the back of a fridge.

    Liz (sniffing suspiciously at contents): "I hope he likes smoked salmon."

    Phil: "Bloody fellow probably only eats cabbage and beetroot anyway."

    Gran: "We've not got any vodka - will gin do?"

    Liz: "If we'd had more notice I'd have sent the kids out to get some caviar."

    Fifty years on and the main route to space is still sticking people on top of an ICBM. Where's my space-elevator?

    1. Vulch

      Sticking people on top of an ICBM

      And barring minor improvements in various components, basically the same design of ICBM launched from the same pad. Sergei Pavlovich Korolev designed well.

  4. Timfy67
    Thumb Up


    An unpretentious statue commemorating, from what I've read, a very unpretentious man. I love the design. From what is a very simple sculpture, you get a real feeling of excitement from the way Gagarin is posed.

    Cheers Russia... you're back on the christmas card list!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yuri Gagarin is like Che Guevara. Because they're dead, people have been able to adopt them as a symbol of something else. It doesn't seem particularly harmful, but I can't help worrying about what people would do if there weren't a convenient figurehead, a heroic person who died young, for them to use as a symbol. Would people be unable to appreciate the amazing work done by thousands of scientists and engineers (or the struggle to liberate oppressed people from imperialism) without the face of Yury Gagarin (or Che Guevara) to symbolise it?

    1. Bilgepipe


      Same thing we do with Neil Armstrong et al - revere them as heroes in the same way. Regardless of how long he lived, or how he dies, Gagarin is a major symbol of space exploration, despite US efforts to "claim" space exploration as their own. His statue will be on Mars one day, along with Armstrong, Shepard, etc.

      1. ravenviz

        Buzz Aldrin

        At least Neil Armstrong doesn't go on about it all the time.

  6. Mark Jan

    Selective Memory

    "Russia and the UK have much in common, not only as allies during the Second World War, and victory gained through sacrifice..."

    Hmmm, only when Germany turned on Russia in 1941 did Russia become part of the allied effort, and even then, it was only for their own gain. In 1939 they were quite happy to invade Poland from the east a week or two after Germany had done the same from the west, and subsequently carve out a new world for themselves as part of the Axis, leading to the Cold War which effectively lasted half a century.

    Come on Vitaly Davydov, you maybe the State Secretary and Deputy Head of Roscosmos, but only 5/10 for your attempts at revisionist hisory.

    1. despicable me

      Selectve Memory?

      In any major conflict there are events that the eventual "winners" prefer to airbrush over.

      If I recall correctly the USA only joined WW2 in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbour.

      Prior to that Joe Kennedy, the US Ambassador to the UK actively sought a meeting with Hitler "to bring about a better understanding between the United States and Germany."

      Don't get me started about the Middle East - King David Hotel anyone?

      The Cold War is over folks, lets move on please.

      1. Mark Jan

        Selective Memory?

        Did the USA fight with the Germans until 1941?

        Did the USA join WW2 after the Germans attacked them and only then, decide to join the Allied effort?

        If the answer to both these questions is yes, then you have a point and in your world, apples taste the same as oranges.

        If the answer to these questions is no, then your flawed logic results in a flawed understanding.

        The Cold War is over, the statue is a nice one, but your reasoning is still flawed.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Selective memory

          History is not as simple as you paint it. Better to leave the remark that we have lots in common to stand, unless you fully understand the context of events in the late 30s.

          Had France and Britain not abandoned Czechoslovakia in 1938, then maybe Stalin might have seen us as viable allies against Hitler. But then the people that made that decision hadn't got hindsight to guide them on the right policy, but they had seen the horrors of WW1, and didn't fancy a repeat performance.

          Stalin was a murderous dictator, but Yuri Gagarin wasn't. So probably best to celebrate the achievement and not make too many glib comments about some very complicated history from over 70 years ago.

          Especially as this statue is probably part of an attempt by the Russian government to improve relations with ours, from events less than 5 years ago. After the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russians forcing the closure of the British council there, and other diplomatic shennanigans. We've got a lot more modern history to rake through, before getting back to the old stuff...

        2. Displacement Activity

          Revisionist bollox

          I can't believe you were downvoted for this. Anyone who seriously believes that there's any parallel whatever between the actions of the western allies on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other, obviously slept through all their history lessons. For starters, go and find out what the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was all about. Here's some help:

          The Soviets denied the existence of the secret protocol in the pact until 1989, when Gorbachev set up a commission to investigate. Everybody else, of course, knew all along.

    2. Ian 55
      Big Brother

      'And this is the time to proclaim our faith!'

      Would WWII have been won without the Soviets? Possibly not, and certainly not by 1945. The cost of that was enormous and dwarfs the UK and American losses.

      Was Stalin an evil bastard? Yep, but for a few years he was on our side and even right wingers like Beaverbrook were happy about that. If someone can find an online copy of his 'faith in Stalin' speech, do let me know.

      1. mhenriday

        Haven't been able to find an on-line copy

        of the whole speech, Ian, but this article from Time Magazine from 17 November 1941 (,9171,795595,00.html)seems to contain the gist. The words paraphrased in square brackets in the citation in question seem to have been «that man's»....


    3. Bumpy Cat

      Not so simple

      You should take the time to read about the crazy diplomacy at the end of the 1930s - the Soviet Union was desperate to create an alliance against Nazi Germany as early as 1938 to prevent the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. The response was lukewarm from the UK, France and Czechoslovakia, hesitant from Romania, and outright hostile from Poland. The Soviets were, to a certain extent, backed into a corner and worked with Germany to buy time.

    4. mhenriday

      Complements on your historical knowledge, Mark Jan,

      but perhaps you should have added that both Britain nor France were happy to acquiesce in allowing the Nazi machine to dismember Czechoslovakia (Agreement in München, 30 September 1938) or gobble up the rest in March a year later (it should be noted that the very same day that the München Dictate (as it was called in Czechoslovakia), Poland's Józef Beck demanded that the Czechs withdraw from the Zaolší region, which was occupied by Polish troops the very next day - a month later the Hugarian dictatorship also got into the act and annexed Czech territory). Why, then,did Britain and France decide to go to war when Poland was attacked on 1 September 1939, when they had been more than willing to sacrifice Czechoslovakia - a far more democratic state than junta-led (Sanacja) Poland ? The whole thrust of these two countries' foreign policy during the period was not to stop Germany, but rather to encourage that country to attack eastward and make war on what was regarded as the real enemy, the Soviet Union. The difference between 15 March 1939, when the remainder of Czechoslovakia was invaded by the German army, and 1 September 1939 was, of course, that in the meantime, a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union had been signed on 23 August 1939, which made evident that the old policy had failed and that Germany would attack westward before it turned its attention to the East. If, during the period from 1933 - 1938, the governments of Britain and France had accepted the proposals on collective security for which the Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov laboured so tirelessly, Germany could have been contained and the horrors of WW II avoided - but that was not the road that men like Arthur Neville Chamberlain or Édouard Daladier chose to take....


  7. Graham Dresch
    Thumb Up


    Much better than the recent crop of crap "statues" that have appeared in London.

    Can we have this as a permanent fixture on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square

    1. ravenviz

      Re: Superb

      Not really, shouldn't that be something British?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title? why?

    Has not the UK got an own space hero that could be celebrated?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sir Patrick Moore

      of course

      1. Vulch

        Michael Foale well.

    2. Brian Morrison
      Thumb Up

      Yes, the father of Black Arrow...

      ...John Scott-Scott.

      Black Arrow launched the UK's first and only satellite, Prospero, in 1971. We are the only nation that has developed the ability to reach orbit and abandoned it.

      And let's face it, do you know anyone else with a double-barrelled name where the two barrels are both the same? Fantastic!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Does this count?

        "And let's face it, do you know anyone else with a double-barrelled name where the two barrels are both the same? Fantastic!"

        James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George DuPree.

        1. Vulch


          But he's only three.

  9. ShaggyDoggy


    I have two science heroes

    Yuri Gagarin - he really did venture into the unknown with the great possibility of death

    Enrico Fermi - similar as he stood next to the first ever atomic chain reaction, anything could have happened

    Very nice statue - what a contrast to that other statue in the news this week

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It makes him look like

    a traffic cop.

  11. Death_Ninja
    Thumb Up


    In a time where people call bonking overpaid footballers and talentless pub singers "heroes" it is fantastic to see a tribute to a genuine hero who's bravery almost certainly will be forever remembered.

    I can't wait to go and see the statue.


  12. John Savard Silver badge

    I'm Puzzled

    I would have thought that in 1961, people were not excited, but terrified to hear of Yuri Gagarin's orbital flight, and it was John Glenn's later flight that was a positive, exciting thing to hear about.

    After all, the Soviet Union, at the time, was a deadly menace to the freedom of people in Europe and America, and, thus, a demonstration that it was good at producing working ICBMs, or anything that contributed to the "glory" of that despotic regime, can hardly be positive.

    It is sort of like commemorating the first manned moon landing, if it had been achieved in, say, 1938 by Nazi Germany. Just as many of our sons fell on the beaches of Normandy fighting Hitler's Nazism, so had they fallen in Korea fighting Stalin's Communism.

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Salute the Cosmonauts!

      Both the USA and the CCCP could be seen as menaces to Europe as they prepared to fight each other across Europe. The prospect of the war was terrifying. The news of Gagarin's flight was exhilarating. The fear has mostly gone now that the CCCP has crumbled and pulled it's occupying forces out of Europe. It's a pity that we're still waiting for the USA to do the same. I still remember going abroad on holiday in 1968, in fear, as the tanks were rumbling into Czechoslovakia and thinking that I'd never see my family or friends or London again. I expected nuclear devastation across Europe when the USA retaliated.

      You asked about Gagarin? Well I was a schoolboy who was thrilled to watch Sputnik 2 with a Laika on board, burning bright in the night sky over London in 1958 - that must have been bright to penetrate the polluted atmosphere and glow of the old fashioned sodium lights! In 1961 I had no idea that the USA was trying to put men into space, but I followed every detail of Gagarin's voyage in newspapers, magazines and radio news. Suddenly our world had a new kind of person in it - the cosmonaut! Only two years later and I was reading about Valentina Tereshkova - cosmonauts were here to stay! Then there were grainy pictures from the far side of the moon. Frankly, as a young scientist, working in Britain I took little notice of the USA space effort until it put a man on the moon. That was a brilliant achievement, but even then I thought they were unchivalrous to name their crew anything but cosmonauts. Why couldn't the USA accept the normal rules of precedence in naming?

      My recollection is that Gagarin came to Britain for the Soviet Exhibition in London. Did I imagine seeing him there when I was a schoolboy?

      Anyway, Gagarin and Tersechkova were two of the big heroes of my youth. And yes, they were very exciting! Cosmonauts beat the pants off lesser heroes like Bob Dylan, Giacomo Agostini, Christopher Cockerell and John Lennon. This statue will make a stroll down the Mall something to put a spring in my step and warmth in my heart. Yuri Gagarin was one of the great heores then and still is now.

      Beer, because there's no Vodka to toast Yuri with.

      1. Yag

        Precedence in naming?

        Just a guess, but the term "astronaut" is probably to rub Ivan's nose in the fact that some americans actually landed (mooned?) on another stellar object ("astra" means star, yes, but it's not that far...) while the other side only managed to travel in space (eg. cosmos)

        It may also explain the non-aligned "spationaut" term used in France...

  13. The Jase

    4th plinth

    As cool as that statue is, the one for the 4th plinth should be the greatest human being ever: Norman Borlaug

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    new history

    Wow, interesting history...never knew that Gagarin was celebrated in London after his blast-off. Cool newsreel about it.

    How come no ticker-tape parade in NYC, too?? ;)

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