Did you, a family member, or friend see Yuri Gagarin in 1961 when he came to Manchester?

If you have memories, press cuttings or photographs of Yuri that you’d like to share, then we’d like to hear about them. We may even be able to use them in the exhibition and on this website.

Share your memories via the comments form below.

§ 15 Responses to witness

  • John says:

    I was in the infants school at St Anthony’s in Wythenshawe when he came to Manchester and I think I seen his motorcade. I am trying to find out the actual route he took, can anybody remember if he went along Simonsway ?

  • Gurbir Singh says:


    Gagarin’s route, according to the MEN on 11th July 1961 was along Ringway Road, Shadow Moss Road, Brownley Road, Altrincham Road, Princess Parkway, Barlow Moor Road, Upper Chorlton Road and then a short distance into Chorlton Road.

    Route to Metrovickers took him past the Old football ground.

    Route to the Town hall included going along Medlock Street to St Peter’s Square.

    Route back to the airport included Princess Street, Upper Brook St, Wilbraham Road and Princess Parkway.

  • joan willis says:

    In l961 I was 17 years old and worked as a typist at the C.I.S. When we heard that Yuri was to come to town the whole office was full of ideas of how to get near to him. My twin sister Sylvia, friend Lorraine, and myself pretended to be uninterested in all the excitement. We did not want our “idea” to be copied. So when the great day arrived, we asked for a late lunch hour,walked into the Town Hall and then into the reception room where we hid ourselves behind some pillars, ate our sandwiches and waited. It seemed like ages before he finally walked up the hall towards the waiting reception committee. The doors were locked behind him as he entered, which worried us as we had already overstayed our lunch hour. People were lined up on either side of the red carpet enthusiastically applauding him. Everyone cheered him and he clapped back to show his appreciation, which we later discovered was customary in Russia. I was nearest so Lorraine pushed me forward. I stood within inches of him and his eyes showed that I had startled him but he smiled and continued to clap. By this time Sylvia and Lorraine were standing besides me. We were all clapping like mad with not a thought to how late we were for work. Suddenly hands grabbed us and the guards took us outside and gave us a very stern warning that if we did not go away we would find ourselves in serious trouble. We were very surprised to see that Yuri was much smaller than us. His wide smile and friendly character always stayed with us. Yes we did get into trouble at work, but no one else in the office had got as close to him as we had done.

  • S. Vanes says:

    I have a newspaper cutting from the Evening Chronicle dated 12 July 1961 which has several photos of Yuri Gagarin during his trip to Manchester. One of the photos is of Yuri in Trafford Park visiting workers at A.E.I and he is pictured with a ‘worker in overalls’ on a platform addressing the crowd. The worker was a friend of my parents called Jim McKenzie and if my memory of the story is correct he defied his bosses and leapt onto the platform to shake hands with Yuri! If you would you like a copy of the cutting I have then please email me. Regards.

  • Yuri says:

    Although I wasn’t born when Yuri Gagarin 1st went in to space, my granddad who was from Riga, was so proud of the fact that when I was bone in 63 he named me after Yuri Gagarin.

    When I visit Russia some years ago it caused quite a stir at passport control when they saw the name Yuri Gagarin in my passport.

  • Roy Darbyshire says:

    In July 1961, I was 28 years old and working in the Industrial Control Drawing Office of Metropolitan Vickers, Trafford Park. I was already interested in astronomy and had ground and polished my own 6” mirror ready for a home made telescope I had planned. The stand was made with a piece of 6” steam pipe found in a scrap bin of the works!

    So you can imagine how excited I was to hear of our Foundry Workers invitation to Yuri Gagarin to accept a gold medal to celebrate his great achievement in space. This is because he was a foundry worker in Russia.

    On the day, we were all given time off to hear him speak on the large bus parking area. At the time about 25,000 worked at Metro Vicks and most came by bus, so it was a huge area. It was there we had heard Harold Wilson and Michael Foot speak at election time, as we were a very strong Labour area.

    I managed to get close to the platform and after his speech (through interpreters), he asked if we had any questions. I asked him about the visibility of stars in space. In answer he indicated that he was too busy to spend time looking through the window at stars!

    After the meeting, he made his way past the works, through a crowd of workers. I had my camera set and ready for him. As he approached I quickly stepped out in front of him and took the shot. Then it went dark, one of his large minders (the one on his right hand side in the photo) ‘moved’ me back into the crowd – but I’d got my shot!

    To see my photograph go to http://yurigagarin50.org/memories/memories-of-yuri

    • gagarin50 says:

      Thanks Roy – great story and photograph. Gagarin50 has uncovered so many memories of people who saw and met the man, and these will be compiled for all to see when the exhibition concludes.

  • Judith Hough says:

    when I was 14 Yuri Gagarin visited Metropolitan vickers which is where my Dad worked, he was the security that looked after Yuri you can see him in the photo in the evening news, the guy in the uniform is my Dad Joe, I have a photo of them together, I remember the time of the visit and the excitement it caused it was an amazing time and my Dad was so proud to have met him and been so closely involved, Dad told us what a nice man Yuri was that he was very polite, sociable and in touch with the people

  • Christine Scholes says:

    I had just turned 4 years old when Yuri Gagarin visited Manachester. I was accompanying my mother on our regular visit to my grandfather’s house which was on Barlow Moor Road and shortly after alighting from the bus on Princess Parkway and taking our usual route through Southern Cemetry (I always wanted to see the angels!) we came across Yuri Gagarin making his way along Barlow Moor Road. Seeing this improtant man in his uniform is a memory that has stayed with me to this day and one that I have often shared with others as it had such a lasting impression. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition.

  • David Edwards says:

    I saw Yuri when he drove past my Lab [AEI on Third Avenue]. I was 22 and absolutely thrilled; he was obviously quite a small man but had a wonderful bearing. I had a great view from the pavement just feet from his car. A bit later I came across a photo in The Mail on Sunday of him and I was clearly visible. I have not been able to source this photo but the memory of the occasion has stayed with me. One of those historical moments that surpasses everything else.

  • Barbara says:

    Have just been watching a programme called “Days Which Shook the World”-a series -this one featuring Yuri Gargarin’s space flight. It reminded me of how I was living in Didsbury then, and went with my parents to see him travel into Manchester. I’m guessing it would have been on Barlow Moor Road-but I do remember the crowds, and seeing a pleasnt-faced smiling man, waving at us all. My father was very pro-Russia -unusual at that time, so Yuri was a great hero. It is very sad that he died so young.

  • gerard murphy says:

    I was 10 years old when yuri came through Chorlton in his motorcade. All the children from st. johns school were taken to the end of High Lane to watch as he glided past in his uniform, waving and smiling at the crowd. We all expected him to be glowing green after his flight into space, but he was just normal!!

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